Responsive web design is a much more efficient approach to mobile browsing than a separate domain name.
I really liked the idea of .mobi before it was launched. It was the only “new” top level domain that made sense to me.
The idea of creating a domain solely for mobile devices made a lot of sense because it served a function; it wasn’t just a label of the site’s content like many other top level domains. In many ways .mobi was prescient; mobile browsing was just about to take off when .mobi came out.
But there was a much simpler solution that offered a good browsing experience to mobile visitors without the need to remember a separate domain name. Automatic device and operating system recognition enables web publishers to easily shift a visitor to a mobile site. Let’s face it: .Mobi isn’t needed. Site visitors don’t need to know the URL of a company’s mobile site; they will be forwarded there when they type in the .com URL.
We’re currently experiencing the next phase of cross-browser web browsing…
A number of big sites are embracing responsive design. In a nutshell, a responsive web site automatically reshapes itself to display well in a browser window of any size. A good example is Mashable. If you go to Mashable and start resizing your web browser, you won’t see any horizontal scroll bars. Instead, the content will reformat to fit the screen.
It’s the same URL, you’re not even forwarded to a subdomain. It works in browsers of any size.
High quality responsive web design is now available to the masses. There are hundreds of responsive WordPress themes available for under $100 (or even free). I’m working on a responsive design for Domain Name Wire as we speak.
Responsive design makes the idea of a separate domain for a mobile site an even more antiquated idea than it already was.
Still, .mobi has been going strong. As of the end of January it had over a million registered domains.
Outside of GoDaddy, the biggest .mobi registrar is GMO Internet, which focuses on the Japanese market. A couple Chinese registrars are also in the top 10. There’s clearly still a market for .mobi, and perhaps it’s for the mobile-only market.
Yet I think it’s fair to say that a different domain name is not the most effective way of handling cross-browser web publishing.