Understanding .Mobi Domain Names

My friend from Fox Interactive writes…

A topic that I would be interested to understand better is .mobi. I see that you mentioned it the other day — but what is the situation with buying these urls? How many people actually know to type in .mobi? Or if you are on a mobile, when you type in a .com are you typically redirected to one? Will those domains eventually become obsolete because the technology in iPhones and such?

I am going to be out of pocket all day today, but I know there are many people out there with greater knowledge of the .mobi extension. I am going to give my very brief overview of .mobi below, but I am opening this up for others to answer the question above in the comment section. I will approve any respectful comment if you can keep your response to 3 paragraphs or less.

My opinion about .mobi is that it is purely a marketing play. Once consumers know about .mobi, they will know any domain name with the .mobi extension is pre-optimized for mobile phone usage. If companies use and promote their domain name with the .mobi extension, consumers will become accustomed to using .mobi on their mobile devices, and they will know what .mobi means.

Because it was recently introduced, most companies companies have not used .mobi, and most consumers don’t know what .mobi is or does. Many brands who own .mobi names registered them for protective purposes, just as they try to register every other foreign extension. If and when more brands develop their .mobi names, consumers will learn about the extension, and for people who own them, the value will presumably increase. Most of the big purchases seem to be based on speculation that the value will increase rather than companies buying them to develop into mobile websites.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Thank you for providing one of the most concise, objective, and accurate assessments/explanations of Dot Mobi to date. Mobi is indeed more about marketing than technology. And it has the potential to become part of the “Internet mobile” vernacular, but only if there is widespread adoption and development. Those who suggest innovative technology, including iPhone, will make “MOBI” superfluous are missing the point. Users who decide to click on a “mobi”, as opposed to a “com” site are in fact indicating they prefer a more streamlined viewing experience, than the full site version.

  2. .Mobi does not solve any need other than giving late to the party domainers a new way to acquire generic names in a new tld. Technologically speaking, most big companies have already optimized their .com sites to look for a mobile browser and display the information in a compatible format.

    Whether it be through the iPhone’s .com button or Firefox and IE’s ctrl-enter .com shortcut, .com is still the de-facto tld even in the mobile market.

  3. I’m not sure that the big purchases are solely based on speculation, but that occurs in all domains. But you are right the public haven’t taken to mobi yet, but they might well do so.

  4. deep breath… in respect, all disrespectful posts have been removed from this thread. What’s left is an informative discussion of these pros and cons with supporting links from industry analysts;
    -The MOBI extension will only be known to consumers if a groundswell of MOBI and corporate publicity and adoption make it so- as the examples on my blog show, big companies (including MOBI investor companies) are advertising contradictory info, so I don’t know how it will be so
    -Voice search is going to dominate the mobile space as people on the go don’t want to type or navigate a small screen
    -iPhone (which MOBI never saw coming) has changed the equation. Developers are making mobile apps for iphone; consumers are buying using and trying (including those who are heads of agencies and marketing departments.. it’s their hands-on lab for understanding how THEY will deploy mobile)
    -All that said only 13% of the people who have iPhone browsing capability use it- that’s in line with studies that my own marketing research for the biggest telco clients has always confirmed
    -The biggest need is corporate issued surfing- Blackberries that mostly access the web through Citrix and are restricted by corporate policies and budgets
    -ATT and Verizon are the key providers in the US; both are walled gardens
    -The biggest promise for MOBI is where the backers are- Europe and G3- but the investors are not registering names conducive to that space
    -There are trademark and service agreement issues that require companies who deploy dotMOBI to strain IT departments with redundant developments and management burden of extra compliance. It may not be realistic to think they will agree to this when resources are short and IT must serve the bottom line first.
    -PCs will not go away, if anything laptops will have more access as Google opens free Satellite WiFi, so the question is what can you really expect someone to do on a small screen when it’s not much harder to access a screen that will project to your plasma and react to your voice commands

    Just thinking aloud. More here:

    and HERE:


    Note: Most are NOT my own opinions but simply review and links to articles and thoughts of leading analysts

  5. Not sure about your assumption that mobi sites require redundant development, they are simple and easy to code and fast to download as the file sizes are small. What the mobi domain is supposed to do is to guarantee that a site will load and work on a phone, so time and money are not wasted.

    The mobile web is actually a real marketing opportunity, as all those people on trains, on holiday and on the move will pass the time browsing on their phones, as they do in Japan. Assuming that a market doesn’t exist is a good way to miss customers.

    As an example of a resource people might want in a situation where they do not have a laptop in their pocket, have a look at http://safetoy.mobi or http://convertit.mobi

    If you think mobi is chasing its tail have a look at this for fun: http://youtube.com/watch?v=-_JharMUbZk

  6. I agree with the assessment that .mobi will succeed based on marketing, and that marketing will be created and paid for by individual developed .mobi site owners. For example, Disney heavily markets its http://hsm2.mobi to young audiences during Hannah Montana, among other programs. The natural outshoot of that was to create Disney.mobi.

    Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss .mobi children’s sites on Radio Disney, including http://hollyjolly.mobi (in development) which aims to create a safe space for children on the mobile internet. There is definitely media interest. Thanks to one of my .mobi partners Mark, who has actively promoted http://recalledtoys.mobi, a site that allows you to check if a toy you are about to buy has been left on the shelf even though it was recalled, we are seeing local media attention which in turn will generate national media attention.

    Within the development community, I know there are people who are creating sites optimized for iphone, and using flash lite and javascript, which to my understanding is allowed in the .mobi development guidelines provided there is also a screen that shows on older phones indicating that the device needs to be upgraded to see the site.

    It is a question of convenience – if I have a limited amount of time to wait for a site to load, or if I have exhorbitant bandwidth charges, I would prefer http://weather.mobi over http://weather.com. Now that corporate and media sites like http://espn.mobi are going live, there are more choices for .mobi surfers, and as that number grows and as people gain a positive mobile browsing experience, we will start to see even more acceptance among general mobile phone populations.

    Thanks for the opportunity to express my views.

  7. If the .mobi registrar can get every owner of these names to have viable content in the 6 months that is supposedly mandatory, then .mobi could be realtive. I will not throw down on any extention. Is is what is done with them that will make the difference.

  8. That fiasco/failed .mobi auction hasn’t helped, though it does not need to be fatal.

    .mobi WILL become a success and quite relevant IF a mobile platform is developed as a direct navigation system for mobile texting; for example, I text “Flowers” and I’m directed to Flowers.mobi.

    I’m sure that some techno whiz is working on that.

    Woo! That would blow .com (at least on mobiles) right out of the water. But if I have to type in .mobi, then I think it will just be another .biz. It’s not enough for a company to commit to using .mobi if consumers know little or nothing about it and if the company owns the .com as a redirect.

    I’m hanging onto my few .mobis; I have ItsJust.mobi (ha, ha, little joke) directed to one of my sites, but I have decided to pull back a bit from buying new .mobis, until I see how the .mobi people behave. If they allow greed to get in the way of the good of the TLD, then you may see a mass dumping of the TLD.

    The sad truth: .mobis get very little direct navigation traffic, even with great keywords; I get better results from .biz.

    I WANT .mobi to succeed–could offer the Johnny or Janie come-latelys a chance to get our small endeavors off the ground.

    Anyway, right or wrong, that’s my perception.

    Ms Domainer

  9. One more thing, one of the cellphone companies in Macedonia is called “Mobimak,” so, perhaps, such a TLD wouldn’t seem so strange.

    I also believe the European and Asian markets will pick up on .mobi before the US, so these areas should be observed closely.

    Ms Domainer

  10. Just to clear up a couple of misconceptions:

    Firstly, what a mobi domain is required to do is deliver, as a minimum, a single page that will work perfectly on all known mobile phones. In practice that means it is coded in straigthforward HTML, the core language of internet pages, without flashy addons. A mobi site can autodetect other devices and deliver different content to them, for example, much larger photos for PCs. A mobi site that delivers no mobile content can be turned off by the registrar. Simple mobi sites can be created in five minutes with publicly available free templates, such as those at http://dev.mobi, where the mobile readiness of sites can be tested and rated.

    Secondly, only the mobi keywords auctioned recently by mobi registrar MTLD via Sedo are subject to a six month development requirement, meaning the buyer must create at least one page within six months for those specific names.

    http://safetoy.mobi has been formatted to work on all mobile devices, so for example babysitters, childminders, playgroups, shoppers and so on can check at once to see if a toy has been recalled, check standards and labels, and contact the authorities Since mobile sites allow you to dial a number by just clicking on it, this gives the public a very immediate access which nothing else delivers.

  11. As much as I would like to comment, I see most are not even aware that this is a global TLD.

    I also see that Elliot asked for ‘respectful’ commentary.

    But I can’t help but feel that Owen is promoting not only his own misinformed misinformation about .mobi but more his own personal site than anything else.

    So, with all due respect to Elliot, I will wish him and his fiancee peace and health for the upcoming new year, and loved your nostalgic look at New Hampshire and your father’s store.

  12. Tim: Texting is a different animal. It’s social- it’s a conversation and usually in situations where you can’t talk (in class or meeting). Navigating websites is another matter, especially if you have to enter info in forms and scroll. I think texting is the big mobile app and those who are investing in SMS #s are the ones making the smart decisions.

    Gerry: Can you please clarify what is misinformation? I put the links to my site because they make it easy to see all of the analyst backup that supports these statements.Plus there are several good ideas for how to find a prospect and build a case for dotMOB in the right situation.

    It seems on the MOBI tld blog there is a backlash and they are getting aggressive with management demanding to know why no promotion is evident and why backers are not drinking their own cool aid.

    Further, multiple mobile blog sites are now confirming that the mobi site will not render on iPhone as it is designed to scale a full-fledged dotCOM site and may have different codes (ajax versus java). That cuts a lot of the potential out since iPhone is now dominating the world.

    Many MOBI developers have made special applications for iPhone and gotten a one touch position on the desktop. Look at Boroughs.mobi or gayscene.mobi and you’ll find very well researched simple applications that address a local need with the least amount of effort required on the users part.

    That is where the market is going. As for other countries, I agree but one needs to invest in names that appeal to the culture and opportunities in those countries not shemale.mobi hoping for a type-in.

    My point about redundent development is that corporations do everything by committee. You can’t even run a report without three weeks of debate and paperwork. The first question is who is responsible for the development and no one wants extra work if they are not getting additional headcount. Or if they outsource to India, the bidding and contract negotiation on that can takle months.

    Due to security concerns, the process of writing a proposal and evaluating it right down to how it will be accounted for, who will write the policy and how we will do it before 2008 since it wasn’t budgeted for this year will tie the initiative in knots. The decision maker will likely pull out an iphone and say “I get the internet fine. Why do we need this hassle and liability.”

    Corporations are far from the mindset of the entrepreneur who works with speed and passion and isn’t concerned that any risk he backs could cost his job then how will he pay for healthcare.

    Companies cited like Disney and BA are different. They have TV to promote the extension, branch offices where customers can go for training etc. Plus they have the IT departments and budgets to manage it which may include testing on several devices and custom code for any secure issues.

    Meanwhile MOBI is now 25 months old- where is one example of any revenue generated or customer feedback how great the application was. The people I talk to tell me they only want to check their email and text and they would never use the browser- not only because its small, but it costs a surcharge on their plan.

  13. Plain and simple, the MARKET will determine whether .mobi works or not. Not all these “experts” or speculators to the extension. Weather.mobi has 7 to 8 million users. How many does espn.mobi have? I have heard of (small company) .mobi websites getting 350,000 hits in one month. With those numbers it sounds like a very small tiny portion of the market is already there.

    There are more cellphones than pc’s, but what will the younger generation be using? My brother’s college in Florida is already using .mobi. I heard of university students in Arizona talking about their professor requiring them to use a .mobi site. The younger generation appears to be learning, accepting and using it. All these old-timers can jump in the backseat and squirm because for years they convinced each other that the extension sucked and was pointless and now will say anything to deter usage “.mobi sites don’t render on iphones” etc… (not true)

    It’s also speculative to say that .mobi’s were purchased for protective purchases, it appears that there are a lot of companies that have developed these sites for the singular purpose that .mobi was created for, the cellphone.

  14. Yep, what Paul said… and why are people even talking about .mobi still?

    if you really must, cover your brands and other important domains but anyone spending big money on a .mobi now is brain dead.

    search rules – web & smartphones push users towards .com – whatmore is there to say?

    code your site to auto-sense for each platform and deliver the approach content in the appropriate format. each platform has it’s own focus and set of rules, and if you don’t get that then you won’t succeed on the mobile web.

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