in T'interwebs

.mobi? schmobi… A sensible idea for a useless TLD

Why oh why we need another global TLD – especially one as ungainly as .mobi – goodness only knows. It’s yet another opportunity to extract cash from companies who are “protecting” their brand by registering every domain combination. Whatever. If you can’t remember the domain, have it in an email, a link, a bookmark or – heaven forfend – from Google then adding a spurious new TLD isn’t really going to help.

Much can be made of the fact that the .com/ of the same root name can be very different companies. So what? If they’re very different you try the options or google. Once you know/remember then there’s no further confusion. People are domain-specific and will remember the site that resonates with them.

A while ago, when I was at the BBC, the domain was owned by Boston Business Consulting. They registered it first and – unless they were PBS-listening liberals – may not even of known of Her Brittanic Majesty’s Broadcasting Service. Anyone landing on their site would equally not have confused their home page for BBC News Online even for a second and would have moved on (probably via the helpful link on the homepage 😉 ).

I’m not dismissing the issue, but I see it only as a problem during initial searches.

Tim Berners-Lee commented in Edinburgh this year that given his time again he’d have changed the positioning of the ‘.com’ in URLs so that you had a hierarchical ‘description’ of the domain – ie “”. This would have helped distinguish between CrabHeaven in the UK and CrabHeaven in the US. Still, you wouldn’t know from the name whether it was a soft-shell eat-till-you-drop restaurant or a sanctuary for aging crustaceans.

To demand that level of knowledge (eg having a description that would qualify a domain as .shop, .consultant, .dentist, .evulevillain etc) is unrealistic.

Take “Apple” – whether the computer company (oops – digital iLife business) or the Beatle’s music business – the word has no real descriptive role. That’s branding for you. “Tequila” – the drink? the advertising agency? a hotel? a holiday company? All of them.

With the .com extension becoming effectively invisible and unhelpful in finding the company you’re after we need other mechanisms for finding the sites we’re after.

My own view is that you’ll be found by linkages, by search or by savvy, considered promotion (eg the URL in print material). Having .eu and .mobi extensions will be relevant for a small number of pan-european or mobile-related businesses, but for the rest of us it’s probably not worth the effort.

As URL promotion becomes ubiquitous people’s ability to read, register and remember domains will also improve dramatically – look at how people “understand” without effort the structure of phone numbers, post codes and car registration plates.

If you are keen on making distinctions within your domain, however, there’s a neat tip from one of the commenters on the e-MediTidbits article:

The best solution I see is the suggestion by Travis Smith of Hop Studios in his comment to one of my previous postings: With this convention, we all get our mobile sites — and we get to type less (assuming your site uses www. now).

And best of all: It’s free.

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  1. Your completely right, adding another TLD is just silly.

    A company could use their existing domain for both their standard site and mobile one. Using a script of some sort to detect the device requesting the page would deliver either PC or mobile versions of the site.

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