The .mobi top level domain has been in the news lately, as the company who owns the .mobi domain, mTLD, was recently sold. Because of the press, we’ve received some questions concerning the .mobi domain. I decided it was time to discuss the history of .mobi and our recommendations.

The history of .mobi
Just as .gov indicates government sites, .edu indicates educational institutions, and .mil indicated military sites, .mobi was created to indicate sites that were optimized for viewing on mobile phones. The .mobi domain was approved as a top level domain in July, 2005, by ICANN, the official overseer and approver of top level domain names. Its inception was financed and backed by a number of major companies, including Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson, Vodafone, T-mobile and others. Registration of domain names using .mobi became available in September, 2006.

According to dotMobi, close to one million sites have been registered using the .mobi top level domain since its inception, but the .mobi domain has never really taken off amongst consumers. Most of the problem is timing related, as very few mobile consumers were accessing the web using their mobile devices in 2006. All of that changed with the release of the iPhone in 2007. The iPhone and subsequent smartphone platforms made the web usable on mobile devices. People bypassed .mobi sites because they were either not aware of a .mobi domain or not happy with the reduced functionality of the .mobi sites, which were built for the most basic mobile devices and did not take advantage of the improved functionality and touchscreen capabilities of the latest devices. 

The issues with .mobi
Using .mobi is not free and comes with many issues that you need to be aware of before jumping in.

1. Increased Cost
Costs for .mobi domains are usually more than 2x the cost of regular domains. A regular domain registration usually runs less than $10/mo. whereas a .mobi domain can run $20/mo. or more. Plus, while a standard domain can service both desktop and mobile clients, a .mobi domain exists only to serve mobile devices resulting in additional domain registration costs.

2. Maintenance Overhead
Since the .mobi domain is an additional domain on top of your regular site, you need to invest additional resources to maintain the content and site.

3. Lack of Awareness
The general public is not aware of the existence of the .mobi domain. In order to get the most out of a .mobi site, you need to spend additional resources and money marketing and promoting it.

4. Poor Functionality
.mobi sites need to be designed for the most basic web-enabled phones resulting in a sub-optimal experience for smartphone users. Since smartphone users are the overwhelming majority of mobile web traffic, your .mobi site ends up service an extremely small, if not non-existent, segment of the market.

A .mobi domain is unecessary
Given the tremendous advances in mobile over the last five years, there is no reason to secure a .mobi domain. When creating an on-line presence and mobile website, you are best advised to use a “OneURL” strategy. A OneURL strategy is easily implemented using device detection code on your existing web presence and allows you to simplify your marketing by promoting one domain for desktop and mobile and by saving money through reduced maintenance and domain registration costs.

So when considering your mobile presence, don’t  use a .mobi domain – you don’t need it. If you already have a .mobi domain, drop it and start using your existing url and device detection code to service mobile visitors.

By the way. if you’re considering mobile or have an existing .mobi site and would like help or advice on your mobile presence, feel free to contact us. We’d be more than happy to help.