Whether it's forward thinking or sheeple behavior, but 13 groups applied to manage Web addresses ending in .app, revealed ICANN today. According to the Uber-Registrar, .app was actually the most popular domain name (aka generic Top-Level Domain name, aka gTLD) sought after in this round, beating out .home and .inc, which had 11 applications each, and .art with 10 applications.
Companies that paid $185,000 for the potential right to hand out .app domains included Amazon.com, and Google Inc., which applied for more than 100 domains under the nom-de-Web of Charleston Road Registry Inc., and a bunch of other firms that sound more like your regular domain-name speculator type.
Other mobile-related URL endings that were sought after included .and and .android (Charleston, err, Google, again on both counts), .immobilien (German?), .kindle (Amazon), .mobile (3 firms, including Amazon, Dish TV and the intriguingly-named Pixie North LLC), and .mobiliy.
I can't figure out if .mobiliy is a non-English spelling of "mobility" or an attempt to catch fat-fingered people misspelling things on their tiny touchscreen keyboards.
The whole typing issue brings me to my skepticism about the auction of these domain names in general.
In this age of Extreme Information Overload, I only remember the URLs of a few Web sites that I regularly visit. The rest I find via Google. That's especially true when I'm using my iPhone or even iPad. Typing on a touchscreen is clumsy enough that I'll go out of my way to Google a site rather than type out its entire name. And, of course, if it's a site I really like, I'll either subscribe to its RSS feed in Google Reader or download the native App version to save myself extra keystrokes.
New domain names haven't really taken off. According to this CNN chart, about 90% of all domain names end in .com, .net or .org. 73% of them alone are .com (note: this doesn't include country-level domains).
There are 1.04 million domain names ending .mobi, or less than 0.7%. .mobi was created in 2005 for mobile Web sites. Personally, I can't recall the last time I visited a site ending in .mobi. All of the mobile-optimized sites I visit seem to begin "m." rather than end in .mobi.
Now, domain names are a separate issue from IP addresses. We sorely needed more of the latter, in part due to the explosion of mobile devices. So yay to IPv6 and IP address expansion. But nay to domain name expansion, which seems wholly unnecessary.
The bottom line to me is: URLs seem to have lost both their necessity and branding power in the post-PC age, due to Google search, touchscreens and native apps. And in the future, voice interfaces and "wetware" (neural connections between brain and computer) would seem to make discrete domain names totally redundant. Which is why I think the release of these domain names, while raising much-needed funds for ICANN, was an exploitation of sheeple behavior at its unfinest.
Despite its name, Bring Your Own Device doesn't absolve corporate IT of responsibility around this influx of mobile devices. Managed BYOD through the use of the right policies and software is the right way forward. SAP's new BYOD microsite offers some in-depth advice and tools to get you started.