According to the BBC, “the mobile web is about to receive the biggest shake-up in years with the start of open registration for mobile phone-specific website addresses. The .mobi top level domain is intended for sites catering to mobile phone users.”
There are about a billion reasons why this won’t work, but here’s what I think are the most pressing:
.mobi is long. Mobile phones have 10 keys, from 0 to 9, usually with an extra two for special functions. Extra thumb work isn’t going to be appreciated.
Everyone knows .com. The .com top level domain is the one everyone’s familiar with, and is likely to continue to be used for marketing reasons. Some devices even have a special .com shortcut button.
Mobile devices are getting better at surfing the web. I use my candy bar Nokia N70 to visit Gmail, Elgg.net, Livejournal and more. None of those sites are specific to mobile phones.
Users don’t want to remember different sites for different purposes: it should just work. Ubiquitous computing is getting closer, and people in business are clearly eager to realise the potential. But the fact that you can browse the web during your morning commute using just your phone doesn’t mean there should be specific sites for your phone. Maybe there could be specific sites that cater to people on their morning commute, but it should never be about the technology: let users use whatever suits them best. Serve the people, not the technology.
The BBC article quotes the chief executive of the Mobile Top Level Domain organisation as saying:
“If you try your favourite websites on a mobile phone, the chances are they are not going to work.”
I direct you all again towards Opera Mini, a really excellent mobile browser. Try your favourite website in the simulator; chances are, it’ll work. No need to muddy the domain name waters with yet another top level at all.