The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) recently signaled its support for the .mobi (“dotMobi”) mobile Internet domain, aligning itself with the dotMobi (MAG) Advisory Group to promote the development of mobile Internet services through .mobi domains.
As part of an Industry Alliance Memorandum of Agreement inked between the groups, the CWTA and MAG will work together to support a common set of industry best practices for content, browsing, e-mail, commerce and advertising on .mobi sites. MAG has also signed a similar agreement with the Mobile Marketing Association.
Since the launch of the .mobi domain last September, almost 600,000 companies have registered their brand names under the .mobi suffix, including such notables as Google, Business Week and Ford of Canada. Some investors have paid more than six figures for the rights to such common words as “flower” and “fun” on the .mobi extension, betting on the future success of the domain.
A barrier to this success, however, has been the sheer variety of mobile devices flooding the market today — up to 4000 by some estimates — almost all of which run on proprietary operating systems and feature varying mobile Internet and rich media content capabilities. A consumer might be able to log on to a specific Web site from his or her mobile device, only to find out that device does not support streaming media, e-mail capabilities, data downloads or other features included in the site.
According to Michael J. O’Farrell, chair and executive director of MAG, this puts content providers and operators in a tricky position: “You want to offer the content, but not to someone who cannot handle it, because then it becomes a bad user experience. It’s very much a ‘chicken and egg’ question.”
Helping content providers, operators and device manufacturers avoid such scenarios is the primary aim of O’Farrell’s organization, which was created when dotMobi, the company behind .mobi, received approval for the domain from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in 2005. ICANN wanted to ensure that .mobi was open to all types of mobile environments, not just those supported by smart phones and other high-end devices.
To that end, MAG has focused on working with dotMobi for the creation of a series of best practices and guidelines that companies can follow to create mobile sites optimized for all types of devices. This is accomplished primarily through the organization’s three working groups, the Policy Working Group, the Product Working Group and the Commercialization Working Group, which address regulatory compliance, technical challenges and commercial opportunities for the mobile Internet, respectively.
DotMobi has already issued guidelines for the best practices concerning mobile browsing and e-mail functions, including the SwitchOn! style guides, which can be found at http://dev.mobi/node/423, along with a guide for mobile Web developers incorporating advice from the W3C’s Mobile Web Initiative "Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0" document. In addition, it has created www.ready.mobi, where companies can enter their mobile URLs to gauge how the sites would perform on different devices.
According to O’Farrell, the next step for the organization will be studying potential best practices and guidelines for streaming media and video.