Despite the prevalence of mobile phones equipped with web-browsing capabilities, surfing the mobile internet hasn’t really taken off.
DotMobi hopes to change the way people think about the mobile internet by providing the tools and domain name for companies to build webpages designed to be viewed on small mobile devices.
“DotMobi was the summation of work by Microsoft, Nokia, and Vodafone, who realised that the mobile internet experience was not as rich as it could be”, explains Alexa Raad, vice president for Marketing at dotMobi.
“It wasn’t for lack of mobile phone technology or high speed that the usage of mobile internet hasn’t increased”, she continues. “These three companies got together and eventually 13 different investors, including T-Mobile, Telefonica, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Google, joined as investors and backers.”
The new domain name launched on 22 May with a limited introduction and a sunrise period for trademarks and large companies to snap up their .mobi domain name. On 26 September, anyone will be allowed to buy their own .mobi space.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the response we’ve gotten by the brand name community”, says Raad. “We expect it will take some time before they’ve put up content.”
One brand name that hasn’t dragged its feet is BMW. Its bmw.mobi site already contains specifications on various car models, as well as wallpaper dedicated to customising mobile phone backgrounds.
Kicker.mobi was quick to take advantage of World Cup hysteria and provided real time scores and results from each of the games.
Dotmobi sites aren’t designed to take over or substitute PC sites; rather, they will host supplemental material to the full site.
“We really see .mobi sites coexisting with the PC sites as an alternative channel. As a content provider, you want to provide a snack, rather than a six-course meal.”
Raad acknowledges that one of the hurdles that must be overcome is convincing consumers that using mobile internet won’t cost them a fortune.
“You need to convince consumers that this isn’t a scary thing, and that you’ll be able to have a huge experience without accruing a huge mobile bill at the end of the month."
Mobile service providers will lower rates for browsing the internet in the near future, Raad believes, following in the footsteps of PC internet service itself. When it first began, connection fees and service charges were enormous, but with greater demand, prices began to drop.
“Our value proposition is very simple. It’s not dependent on the phone or operator that you have, it’s opensource. Our goal is to make sure the customer is happy”, says Raad.
To that end, the company has a guide available to developers to make building web pages for the mobile internet easy.
To be successful on the mobile internet, pages have to load quickly and have a simple navigational interface.
A developer’s forum is being planned for launch later this year. It will house opensource tools, as well as content and testing tools.
The idea behind the forum is that developers have to make sure their pages work on the myriad handsets available (over 3000 at last count), as well as seven different mobile internet browsers and different platforms for smartphones.
The forum will also link experienced developers with people or businesses looking for webpage builders.
Go on. Get out your mobile and navigate over to bmw.mobi or kicker.mobi and see what the mobile internet is all about.