It's .mobi Time!

Moby vs .mobi

.mobi, the top-level domain specifically for sites whose content is specifically geared towards mobile devices, is one of the newest TLD offerings from Tucows. In this article, I'll provide a brief overview of the .mobi domain name and link to useful information sources for people who want to buy or sell .mobi domains and developers who want to build sites for them.

What is .mobi?

.mobi is an ICANN-approved sponsored TLD, whose sponsors are a consortium of companies that includes big players in the software, internet and mobile device fields. Among them are Google, Microsoft, Vodafone, Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia.

This domain is specifically for mobile devices -- things like mobile phones, personal digital assistants and other handheld devices capable of accessing the internet. A .mobi site should adhere to a set of guidelines for ensuring compatibility with mobile devices; these guidelines include the W3C's Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0 document and the .mobi Switch On! guides, which are derived from the W3C document. Adherence is currently enforced through a "challenge process".

The Market

Consider the mobile device market:

  • At 2.2 billion units, mobile phones outnumber personal computers by a factor of two to one.
  • Think that last stat was impressive? Mobile phone sell faster than computers by a factor of four to one.
  • Think that web access via the phone is for future phones only? Think again: 70% of mobile phones -- that's over 1.5 billion devices -- worldwide are already configured for 'net access.

Mobile phones seem to be everywhere. I'm quite certain that I see at least three advertisements for mobile phones or mobile providers, both on American and Canadian television, and during a recent stroll through downtown Belfast, it seemed as though there was a mobile phone store on every block. Go to any busy part of a city -- a popular square, the financial district, shopping malls -- and you'll see mobile phones of all shapes and sizes, from the flip-top handheld to the bluetooth earpiece to the haute couture Dolce and Gabbana phone Among my circle of friends -- and yes, most of them aren't programmers or techies -- not having a mobile phone is the exception rather than the rule.

Simply put: the potential user base for .mobi domain names -- on the order of a billion people or so worldwide -- is already in place.

When are .mobi Names Available?

Right now!

Tucows domain partners who've signed up to sell .mobi names can do so either via the Reseller Web Interface (RWI) or programmatically via the API, and everyone can buy a .mobi domain through participating Tucows partners.

Here's what's been going on: the "sunrise" period, during which time .mobi domains could be claimed by trademark holders only ended on September 22nd at 13:59 UTC (9:59 a.m. Eastern / 6:59 a.m. Pacific).

We're now in the "landrush" period, which began only hours ago (today being September 26th) at 14:00 UTC (10:00 a.m. Eastern / 7:00 a.m. Pacific) and runs until October 10th at 13:59 UTC (9:59 a.m. Eastern / 6:59 a.m. Pacific). During this time, .mobi domains will be available to the general public at a higher price. The upside to paying a higher price for a .mobi domain name is that you stand a better chance of getting the one you want, rather than waiting for the next period, called the "general availability" period.

The general availability period starts on October 11th at 14:00 UTC (10:00 a.m. Eastern / 7:00 a.m. Pacific), at which time .mobi domains will be available at the standard price.

Where Can I Find Out More?

Here are some useful .mobi resources:

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