Can dotMobi compete with m. ?
Now that Afilias has purchased dotMobi, there is renewed discussion about whether or not .mobi can compete for mind share and market share with m. or mdot, the shorthand for made for mobile websites that start with m. in front of a brand’s primary web address.
“With the m-dot convention becoming the de facto standard for mobile Web addresses, it’s not clear how Afilias can suddenly generate fresh interest in the dot-mobi domain. Unless it can also revive the fortunes of Friendster at the expense of Facebook.” – Mark Walsh, MoBlog.com
Upon re-reading Mark’s quote, I don’t think it is an apples to apples comparison. Friendster was first, and Facebook came afterwards and passed it in the marketplace. .mobi was not there first, so it isn’t like it lost market share. It just never took off, or at least not yet.
If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, it strikes me that in the future, .mobi still could build momentum and eventually get to a tipping point of awareness if the right people started to care about it. That said, we are nowhere near the tipping point right now, and I think it could take another three years or so despite the fact that many people are yet again declaring 2010 “The year of the mobile web.”
This isn’t some pie in the sky idea. There is a recent precedent in the form of Twitter.
Twitter was around for years before most people even knew what it was, let alone the media phenomenon it is today. People called it a waste of time, a money loser, and worse (sound familiar?). Early adopters called those early days of fail whale sightings “Before Oprah,” which refers to the day mega-celebrity Oprah Winfrey announced that she would be tweeting on her show. Now I see twitter badges all the time on national television commercials, and I bet you do, too.
So, to everyone who sees mdot (as in m.something.com) as the default for how to access the internet on a mobile phone on the top social media and other high traffic sites, I’ll remind you of an important truth: just because something is on top right now doesn’t mean it will stay that way, especially in technology.
The tipping point will only happen if there is enough word of mouth in the right circles, so yes, it is important to continue to develop useful, popular sites in the .mobi namespace, and do whatever you can to get them to go viral.
It won’t happen by accident, though. And, it won’t happen overnight. It will build slowly as members of different communities start to notice developed .mobi sites that they like. Then, they will share it with one or two more people in their communities, and eventually, if enough good sites are built on .mobi, knowledge of .mobi will cross community lines, and eventually, celebrities will start to think it is a good idea and say so publicly.
Signs of Life in .mobi Promotion
Flymas.mobi has a killer of a viral promotion on Youtube right now. It’s user-generated content where people are trying to win free airplane tickets. Some of these videos are very funny. As a result of this contest, in Malaysia and other parts of the world served by Malaysia Airlines, you can bet they’ve heard of .mobi. More campaigns like this one can bring .mobi closer to the tipping point.
Afilias, I am not letting you off the hook for .mobi promotion. I’d like to see dotMobi move beyond the Business to Business strategy that left consumers in the dark about developed mobile sites. I’d like you to show bloggers and small business owners the possibility of registering great keywords at new registration prices.
That said, developers, get busy.
This post is included in Carnival of the Mobilists #212. Please visit the link and see what my mobile colleagues have to say.
Do you have a .mobi site with a viral video? Link it here in the comments (moderated). Let’s see what you’ve got!