When the dot-mobi domain was launched in 2006, the idea was to create the mobile equivalent of the dot-com -- a standard signifier doing business on the mobile Web.
But the dot-com domain wound up extending its hegemony to the mobile sphere as businesses and other entities simply dropped an "m-dot" in front of their Web names and kept the dot-com at the end to maintain the connection to their main sites. Dot-mobi, meanwhile, has been left to wither, despite the backing of tech industry heavyweights like Google, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung.
But with the apparent aim of rescusitating dot-mobi, Internet domain registry Afilias Thursday announced acquiring mTLD Top Level Domain Ltd., the organization that operates the dot-mobi domain. With one million dot-mobi registrations to date globally, the Ireland-based company promised "dotMobi will benefit from the increased focus that a seasoned registry expert like Afilias will provide." The company also supports top level domains like dot-INFO and dot-org.
But mobile ad experts don't hold out much hope for a dot-mobi resurgence. The 'm-dot' is by far the the most commonly used mobile URL," said Alexandre Mars, CEO of Phonevalley, the mobile marketing agency of Publicis Groupe. "CMOs don't even know dot-mobi and don't understand why they should use it."
Mars has exhorted clients and brands generally to develop their "m-dot strategy," investing in creative ad concepts geared to mobile in addition to standard marketing and media-buying. Rather than adopt a new mobile domain that might confuse users, he emphasizes building on the value of dot-com names by extending them to mobile. In short, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
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.