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7/14/2006
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Vendors Hoping The .Mobi Domain Will Help The Mobile Web Not Stink

The .mobi domain will be restricted for use by sites that are optimized for viewing on cell phones and other mobile devices.

The Internet Web experience on mobile devices is still vastly inferior to what people are used to on their laptops and desktops. But that could change when more companies begin using the .mobi top-level domain next month, which has been restricted for use on the "mobile Web."

Since its approval by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, .mobi has been highly anticipated by the wireless community, promising to eliminate problems associated with browsing on .com sites, such as large graphics and multimedia content. It's also expected to pave the way for widespread use of the Web by cell phone users. However, companies will first have to obtain a .mobi Internet address and create a Web site that's wireless-enabled. Mobile Top Level Domain, the company behind .mobi, began registering Internet addresses in May. Trademark copyright holders are registering now through August 21, and general registration is expected to open on August 28.

.Mobi is different from other domain names like .biz, .info, and .net, which haven't quite taken off, because it's backed by a consortium of large technology vendors, including Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Ericsson, and Nokia, says Lee Eulgen, an intellectual property litigation lawyer at Neal, Gerber and Eisenberg, a law firm that represents business clients in different industries. But that's not the only factor bound to make .mobi a success: The domain name is designed exclusively for cell phone users accessing the Internet, and it promises a more consistent and predictable browsing experience.

The mobile domain name is a good opportunity for businesses to get ahead of the competition and begin offering services over the Internet to cell phone and PDA users. ".Mobi is a quick fix for many companies that want to put up a wireless site," says Eulgen, pointing out that retailers could take advantage of .mobi to improve the online shopping experience for their on-the-go customers.

Companies, however, could run into a problem of cybersquatting, which was prevalent in the '90s when people would register popular trade names or similar-sounding names, such as wallstreet.com, as Internet addresses for the purpose of selling them for a profit. Now there's a clear message for businesses looking to keep up with the fast-paced wireless world: "Get in the game before a cybersquatter snatches your name," Eulgen says. "And when it comes to business, you don't want to be left behind."

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