mdot vs. dotMobi as Mobile Internet: The Tipping Point

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!

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7 Responses to “mdot vs. dotMobi as Mobile Internet: The Tipping Point”

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  1. Fred says:

    People you are looking at .mobi in the wrong way and always have. M. is fine if you own the .com sure…but what if you don’t own the .com?
    You must see .mobi as just another extension but then a special one, a top tld that is perfect for the business or bloke or gal that wants to start up something that needs a website and finds that the .com is already taken.
    “What the .mobi haters and smear campaigners always conveniently forget is that there are new businesses and start ups that can’t use the .com because it is already taken. I am talking generic keywords and non trademarked terms and names. Since the .com is not available and mobile internet is the future .mobi is perfect for them and many excellent names are available at a much lower pricetag then the .com if the .com is even available. They can even build a PC site on it that recognizes mobile devices if they like just like a .com
    The shortsightedness of some people like the techdirt guys as far as .mobi is concerned has always amazed me. I thought we were dealing with adults with a brain but no they ceaselessly keep on bashing .mobi in a real juvenile way.”

  2. Fred says:

    “What the .mobi haters and smear campaigners always conveniently forget is that there are new businesses and start ups that can’t use the .com because it is already taken. I am talking generic keywords and non trademarked terms and names. Since the .com is not available and mobile internet is the future .mobi is perfect for them and many excellent names are available at a much lower pricetag then the .com if the .com is even available. They can even build a PC site on it that recognizes mobile devices if they like just like a .com

  3. Petra says:

    I agree with you Holly, the game isn’t at all over yet, especially if you think about it globally.
    I live in Finland, where we started a “mobile internet” with WAP in the late 1990’s. I had my first WAP enabled phone, the Nokia 7110 in fall 2000 and was reading newspapers, using an online dictionary and checking TV-programs with WAP already back then. Because of this legacy, we still have websites in Europe and Asia that are called wap.domain.com.
    I think any url that adds more dots is just overcomplicating things. Some websites already have two-part names separated with a dot. Take forum.nokia.com for example. A mobile version of this would be m.forum.nokia.com. Too many dots there. Why not just forum.nokia.mobi?
    It’s true that as we move towards more converged mobile and web, the need to identify mobile sites becomes less relevant. But we always tend to over-estimate the time it takes for new technology to be fully adopted by everyone. My rule of thumb is: make your estimate and double it.

  4. Douglas says:

    Why is anyone bothered about .mobi at all? This stuff about “what if you don’t own the .com” is irrelevant. Use .dot and then your MAIN domain – not someone elses! It’s about clarity not claiming someone elses domain on .mobi

    Anyway – the whole point of the anti .mobi guys is simple. If I want to visit a site – I go to one url regardless of device…. The .com, the .fr or whatever. That site site should resolve to a mobile version – who cares if that is mdot or .mobi? Except mdot won’t cost you money. Promotion of .mobi is ridiculous – it sets us all back as it makes web sites harder to find – not easier. How many people go – “hmmm – nothing on .com – I’ll try .mobi?” – Few, and why should they have to care?

  5. Holly Kolman says:

    @Douglas, thanks for your comment. You said, “Use .dot and then your MAIN domain – not someone elses! It’s about clarity not claiming someone elses domain on .mobi.”

    I am anti-cybersquatter and think that anyone who has a legitimate business trademark can file a WIPO if their domain is being squatted. Not everything is a trademark, though. Generic dictionary words are not trademarked, and many of these names are parked with ads on them in the .com.

    I think stating that the .com or .fr is the only extension that matters is like saying that anyone who didn’t buy real estate downtown is out of luck. Well, new neighborhoods crop up all the time, and give people and companies a choice on where to live, online and off.

  6. Douglas says:

    @ Holly

    Your web address is your address on the web, right? So…. it’s fine to have another address – but if I go to your first address (and like it or not your .com IS your main address) – and you are out (at your second home!). Why not leave me a note to tell me where you are? You are saying that the note should say “sorry this house is derelict but if you can guess my other address, you’ll find me!” Hmmmm.

    I have no big issue with .mobi – just it’s promotion instead of a redirecting .com or equivalent.

Trackbacks

  1. […] What now for .mobi? With the slightly shocking news that .mobi has been sold to Affilias, what does this mean for the .mobi brand. I’ve a vested interest in this one, as I run a .mobi domain. Will mobile sites migrate to m. a la facebook and twitter? Can .mobi regain the initiative. Important questions. […]



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