.mobi is not the answer to mobile content

The .mobi initiative may seem like a good way to get more people using the web with their cell phones, but ultimately it is going to fall short. RIAs give mobile users an unprecedented level of control over how they view content. It also gives content providers, advertisers and marketers a rich platform with which to hook users.

Limited registration is under way for the .mobi domain and this article in the Wall Street Journal describes the goals behind the .mobi domain as trying to make the browsing experience in cell phones more pleasant. While this may seem like a good idea, (and at $140-$45 a pop for a .mobi address, there is money to be made), it's a step backwards and it isn't going to catch on.


The .mobi domains have a good set of rules in place. By eliminating popups and making the pages easily viewable on a mobile screen, they're trying to make it all work better. However as much as people like text, and I think text-based content is the most important part, a mobile device is simply not set up for web browsing. While phones with QWERTY keyboards are more and more common, most of the world doesn’t have them. Phones were simply not made for browsing the web and anything that tries to refine that experience is simply a hack.


Mobile is obviously white-hot and everyone is trying to figure out how to monetize it. Initiatives like .mobi are going to be normal growing pains as people figure out what works and what doesn't. However companies that embrace the idea of delivering their mobile apps as RIAs will have a big first mover advantage. Using technologies like FlashLite, you can take web content and customize the experience so that it works seamlessly with the phone, not as a glued-on piece. Content providers are going to want to start delivering multimedia, advertising, and branding their content in ways that just isn't possible with a mobile browser.

Mobile RIAs can take the content, and give mobile users full control over it. Content is king, but content rendered in a mobile browser is not as good as content delivered over a mobile application. The browser is simply too limiting to meet the needs of the content providers and marketers. Until they realize the solution is out there, mobile users are going to stay away from their content.