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Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Your First Mobile Website – Should it be a .mobi or a mobile subdomain?

 

In reference to my article “Mobile Search Site Creation and Optimization – Part 1” Vance Hedderal, Director of Public Relations at .mobi explains why he thinks the .mobi extension should be used instead of a mobile subdomain (i.e. yoursite.mobi vs. mobile.yoursite.com)

Quote from Vance Hedderal:

I was surprised to read the section in Rachel Pasqua’s presentation summation that says, “iCrossing decided to proceed with the subdomain concept rather than a separate domain such as a .mobi. In this case their mobile site is located at mobile.icrossing.com; a sensible concept that retained the branding of the top level domain name without having to rebrand a new one.”

I was surprised because, up until then, the ideas in her section seemed well thought out.

It’s rare to see companies that hinge their brand on a domain. Even the greatest Internet success stories like Amazon, Google and Yahoo aren’t tied to a domain. They realize a domain is a channel; to them, a .fr, or .co.uk or .jp matters as much as a .com. That’s what .mobi brings to branding: a distinct, easy-to-remember formula for finding the mobile content of a brand and a distinct channel, much the same as a country code offers.

The subdomain strategy that iCrossing is employing is what has brought mobile users addresses like http://wap.oa.yahoo.com and http://proxy.espn.go.com/wireless/espn/. With .mobi, users can easily guess — say — “cnnmoney.mobi” or “google.mobi” and know that they’ll get content that works on their phones.

Now, think about brands that did tie themselves to a domain. Here’s one: pets.com.

We’ve talked more about this in our own blog’s misconception series. Our contributor, Ronan Cremin, remarked, “Third level domains such as wap.domain.com and mobile.domain.com do not work well for the purpose identifying mobile content, nor do special URLs such as domain.com/mobile and domain.com/xhtml because there are no enforceable standards for doing this (DNS is inherently distributed — registrants can do whatever they want with third-level domains). A top-level domain, on the other hand, can do this, and help the user to identify (and trust) mobile friendly sites.”

It bears noting that iCrossing does own the icrossing.mobi domain. That said, Rachel was clear that .mobi was not their first choice for promoting their site. The other presenters also noted that although they did not have high expectations for the .mobi extension they felt it was still a good idea to purchase the domain to avoid the possibility of future losses should it gain traction.

Go For .Mobi
I recommend that clients utilize the .mobi extension when creating their new mobile websites because it is inherently logical; having a single top level domain (TLD) that is dedicated to mobile is a sensible manner to simplify mobile surfing. That .mobi is not a popular top level domain says very little since the mobile web is still in the first stages of formation. I expect the next 2 years will be the real test and I for one believe that .mobi has a real chance of catching on as long as the .mobi PR machine can get big media and other early adopters to utilize it.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth SEO Services
Celebrating 10 Years of SEO Excellence

2 Responses to “Your First Mobile Website – Should it be a .mobi or a mobile subdomain?”

  1. Javier Marti

    I have the feeling that .mobi will be bigger than .com, but it is too risky to say that now because we are not seeing any movement in the .mobi front.
    However, the opportunity is too big for the partners in .mobi to let it go just like that. Imagine! They could have the monopoly on the re-registration of the whole world to access the mobile web (which is the web of the future) if they so decided.
    The key will be Google’s stance and making all the partners pull in one single direction to make it happen.
    I am writing an article in the coming weeks, but don’t know if I’ll publish it in my blog or in Trendirama. Make sure you are in tune if interested…

    Regards
    http://trendirama.com

  2. Thorsten Kettner

    Hi Ross, I just read your article and – sorry to say – strongly disagree.

    You mention Amazon and Google being present in .fr, .co.uk, etc. and recommend to use .mobi for their mobile version. Well, amazon.fr is something very much different from amazon.co.uk, so you would have to put the country information somewhere anyhow.

    What makes http://www.amazon.co.uk.mobi better than m.amazon.co.uk, mobile.amazon.co.uk or http://www.amazon.co.uk/m?

    I agree though that a standard would be very desirable. I prefer the m. prefix. The mobile browser could even complete the typed in url amazon.fr to m.amazon.fr, just as a PC browser completes it to http://www.amazon.fr.

    Regards
    Thorsten Kettner

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