Pinky Brand explains what’s going on with the .mobi domain name.
From the moment it launched, the .mobi top level domain name has been divisive in the domainer community. As people paid tens of thousands — even hundreds of thousands — for .mobi domain names at auctions, onlookers thought these people were crazy while the buyers thought they were getting a bargain piece of property on the mobile web.
Even though the rush has slowed down and people have had time to sort things out, people still stand on one side of the issue. A few months ago, .mobi domainers began to get frustrated and raised a number of issues.
This came as somewhat of a shock to me. After all, I can think of no other new top level domain names that has put in more effort or money into a launch than dotMobi. Whether or not it’s enough is another question.
Earlier today I connected with dotMobi Director of Global Sales Pinky Brand for an update.
Brand told me that, with close to 1 million domain names currently registered, the company is profitable. It is currently investing in add-on products, such as Device Atlas. (More information on current initiatives is available in dotMobi’s resource center.)
As for resale values of .mobi domain names, that’s a secondary concern to the company.
“I think by definition, domainers are a varied lot of individuals,” said Brand. “There are some who are very experienced and some that are new to this business. Depending on where you came in, you may have different expectations.”
Making millions quickly flipping .mobi domain names is probably not the right expectation.
“If a domainer buys a .mobi and they expect to flip it for 100x in a year, more power to them,” said Brand. “But we’re not guaranteeing that. That’s a secondary business.”
Brand doesn’t believe that the high auction prices .mobi domains commanded at early auctions set unrealistic expectations for domain owners. They reflected how the market valued the domains at the time.
One complaint you’ll hear about .mobi is that it isn’t being marketed to end users. Don’t expect a mass market push to mobile phone owners any time soon. As Brand explained, the company isn’t going to put an ad in the SuperBowl. This sort of marketing isn’t as efficient as getting companies — small and large — to use the domain and thereby spread the .mobi name to their customers.
If .mobi domainers are giving dotMobi grief over its marketing efforts, it will be interesting to see what happens when new top level domains roll out. Few TLD backers will have the financial resources dotMobi had at its launch. Brand noted that none of the newer top level domains — even all of them combined — have amounted to anything close to a fraction of .com.
“Someone who’s starting a new top level domain needs to think about that,” said Brand. He advises people to look at history. “They’re not going to sell ten million domains.”
As for .mobi, its registration numbers are much higher than any new TLD introduced since .info/.biz. But there is still legitimate debate about whether a TLD for the mobile web is needed given automatic device recognition, and if it makes sense to have two separate webs (one for desktop, one for mobile).
“We’ve accomplished the task of building a foundation,” explained Brand. dotMobi hopes to build on that foundation in the coming year.