.MOBI has no clothes

I wrote a letter to the editor of New Media Age today just to make clear my views on the .mobi "top level domain". Here it is:


The "approval" of the .MOBI top level domain by ICANN is interesting but pointless. .MOBI is a red herring that will be consigned to the dustbin of irrelevant initiatives – like PL/1, Ada, Algol 68 and OSF/1. Here’s why:

Content Providers want to promote ONE "address" in written, electronic or verbal forms and want it to work through any medium – mobile, fixed or word of mouth. The technology exists to support this today. For example http://www.vodafone.com/ works well a PC or from a mobile phone.

The WWW Consortium advised ICANN to reject .MOBI early in 2004. Browser protocols provide an HTTP_ACCEPT header to a single URL to be used across all device types – hiding complexity from users. World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee warned that a new .MOBI domain could be harmful, potentially breaking the web’s device independence and putting mobile users in a walled garden.

The sponsors of the Irish company behind the "scheme" claim to want to provide a good user experience. It’s therefore amazing that after several years, most of their own web sites give an error message to hundreds of millions of mobile users. gsmworld.com, microsoft.com, sun.com, and even nokia.com all give an error message to most users because they only work on PC browsers.

If the .MOBI initiative gained any traction, it could complicate and confuse the Internet experience for mobile subscribers, and slow down the delivery of mobile services. Fortunately, enough people in the Mobile Content industry have pointed out the obvious flaws in the proposal, so few people will be embarrassed by praising the clothes of a naked emperor.

However, just in case its not absolutely clear, let me be like the little boy who spoke the truth: ".MOBI has no clothes! " If any of the sponsors need help in developing their web sites to enable them to better support mobile devices, as Vodafone has already done, we are certainly more than willing to help provide them with the appropriate information.


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