July 11, 2005
New .mobi Suffix Points to Wireless Web Sites
AMSTERDAM -- Consumers will soon be able to recognize Web sites specially designed for use by mobile phones by the new ".mobi" suffix, which will be introduced alongside the popular ".com" and other top-level domain names.
The new suffix was approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) at a Luxemburg meeting on Monday.The first Web sites for mobile devices, which will be fit for a small screen and limited memory and bandwidth, will be ready in 2006.
Mobile Web services will also use geographic information to take advantage of the changing location of a mobile device, for instance to find the nearest hospital, ICANN Chairman Vint Cerf said in a conference call.
The new domain name was requested by a group of powerful mobile phone operators and handset makers, which set up a joint venture to encourage companies and Web site designers to create mobile Web pages.
Member companies include Hutchison 3, GSM Association, Ericsson, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Telefonica Moviles, T-Mobile and Vodafone.
If more Web pages are optimised for handheld devices, rather than desktop or laptop computers with big screens, these companies hope more consumers will upgrade their phones.
"As .mobi will encourage the usage of advanced functionalities in mobile devices, the market potential for those devices will increase," they said in a joint statement.
Nokia, Ericsson and others also hope telecoms operators will buy new infrastructure gear to serve those .mobi pages. "Mobi" is short for mobile phones in the Netherlands, but it is a nickname that is used around the world. Belgians use "GSM," Germans "handy," French "portable" or "mobile," Britons "mobile" and Americans "cell." Swedes have a "mobil" and Finns make calls with a "kannyka."
Another new top level domain name, ".eu" for European web sites, will become operational this year. Companies, organizations and individuals with legitimate claims to a name because of trademarks they own or other reasons, can already apply during a so-called "sunrise period."
Other new domain names include ".jobs" and ".travel." ICANN agreed to set up a ".xxx" Internet domain for porn sites in June, after years of lobbying from interest groups.
ICANN chief executive Paul Twomey shrugged off a recent statement by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) that it would continue to authorize ICANN decisions, which was seen by some as an intention of U.S. governance of the Internet for a long time into the future.
"They confirmed what they do now. All the U.S. has done is to show a continued interest. Many thought it was a change of policy. It is not," he said. The current agreement between ICANN and the DoC expires in the second half of next year.
(Additional reporting by Daniel Frykholm in Helsinki, Jean-Baptiste Vey in Paris, Gilles Castonguay in Brussels)
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