Buy your piece of the .mobi internet today
The net on your phone from 3pm
The latest addition to the internet - new .mobi domains - will go on sale from 3pm today (GMT).
The .mobi top-level domain will be exclusively for use with mobile phones and other mobile devices, rather than relying on cut-down versions of normal websites, and so will "revolutionise the use of the internet on mobile devices" the company behind it says.
You can buy your .mobi domain from any of the main domain registrars (77 of them worldwide have signed up). The domains are more expensive than usual - around £20 per year compared to an average of about £10 for a dotcom - as the extra funds are put into monitoring the domains to make sure they conform to agreed mobile standards.
DotMobi CEO Neil Edwards (previously in charge of .com domains) told us that the company was going to be firm with anyone that didn't follow the guidelines drawn up and would suspend any site that didn't comply. The risk is that if all .mobi domains don't conform to being easily used on mobile devices, the whole ethos of a mobile internet could be undermined. Those standards were originally controversial when people pointed out that they were preferential to some mobile companies' systems over others, so DotMobi joined up with net standards body W3C to agree a set of open standards.
While low-graphic versions of websites are nothing new, not since the WAP debacle has there been a serious effort to standardise and encourage a mobile version of the net. If it is ever going to happen, .mobi will be the one to watch since the company behind it is a consortium containing a virtual Who's Who of the mobile industry and the biggest net and software players: Ericsson, Google, GSM Association, Hutchison, Microsoft, Nokia, Orascom, Samsung, Syniverse, T-Mobile, Telefonica, TIM and Vodafone.
Companies have been able to register their trademarked .mobi domains since 12 June in what has now become a traditional "sunrise period" for new top-level domains, aimed at reducing cybersquatting. Edwards told us that its systems, combined with a $200 per domain price during the sunrise period, had done much to kill the cybersquatting problem. He claimed less than one per cent of domains people have attempted to register were without merit - possibly a record in the domain industry.
DotMobi staff have however taken advantage of the domain contract, which allows the company to pre-register a number of domains for their own use. CEO Neil Edwards for example has "www.edwards.mobi", registered on 1 August, as does their CFO (grey.mobi), VP (raad.mobi), directors (farren.mobi, cremin.mobi, greer.mobi, champagne.mobi) and even the CEO of the largest domain register GoDaddy, Bob Parsons, has "parsons.mobi".
They have also broken their own rules slightly to enable people to access DotMobi's own websites through a normal computer. And they have done a deal with certain registrars where their company names appear more regularly on the main .mobi registration webpage (it only lists three at a time) and so pick up more business.
But with four mobile phones sold for every PC, and with experts agreeing that as more people get online in Asia and Africa the number of people accessing the nthrough mobile devices will soon outstrip those through computers, it looks as though .mobi has a strong future ahead of it. ®