2008 – Year of the Mobile Web, Part 1

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Canadian Marketers interested in leveraging the full reach of mobile have rarely ventured (so far) beyond SMS to the mobile web…and with good reason.

Aside from the fact that only about 11% of Canadians with mobile devices actually use the mobile internet, the experience to date has been inconsistent at best and convoluted and expensive at worst.

Besides a general lack of consumer awareness that you can actually browse the web on your mobile device, there have been some other major barriers to adoption:

  1. Graphics not optimized for the mobile web resulting in an inconsistent experience
  2. Slow access
  3. Difficult to navigate – just try tsn.ca in your mobile browser… there are about 14 pages of navigation before you get to the content!
  4. Content is not optimized for the mobile experience
  5. No support for PDF, javascript or flash – so many sites just simply don’t work on the mobile web

In order for the mobile web to become more relevant and important than the desktop web, consumers need an experience that is consistent, easy, and intuitive. Enter dotMobi. dotMobi is the first and only Internet domain extension designed specifically for mobile. dotMobi is the consumer trustmark for reliable mobile content sites and for the devices that will provide the best experience. Consumers seeing a URL with ".mobi" should know that the site is optimized to work specifically for their mobile device.

dotmobi is not a technology – it’s a set of open standards based on the W3C Mobile Web Initiative (MWI) designed to create a consistent and positive mobile web experience. You can follow these practices for your own domain / sub-domain without having to promote a separate URL…although dotmobi is a consumer trustmark that says this WILL work on my mobile device.

The dotMobi domain name is the result of many of the world’s industry leaders coming together to create a common mobile domain platform. Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson, T-Mobile, vodaphone and telefonica have all supported the initiative. The following mobile associations have also supported it: CTIA, CWTA, GSM Association, Mobile Entertainment forum, Mobile Marketing Association, RCA, and W3C (the folks who invented this internet thing).

There has been some debate in the mobile community over the value of having a domain name setup specifically for mobile. Some argue that smart brands have one URL with an auto-detect script setup to determine which version (desktop or mobile for example) to serve up.
For example, Facebook will serve up a completely different experience on the iPhone, BlackBerry, or desktop web based on auto-detection – all from their main URL. Ford of Canada has done exactly this but with two URLs – type in their mobile URL (fordca.mobi) on the web and you’ll be redirected to ford.ca. Try typing in ford.ca in your mobile web browser, and you’ll be redirected to the mobile URL.

Detractors of dotMobi or a separate mobile URL have a logical point of view – why should you have to market a separate URL after investing time and money into your .ca or .com site? I would point out that consumers browsing the mobile web or receiving an embedded link in an SMS message may be more apt to click-through to your site if they know it’s optimized specifically for the mobile web. Until the majority of sites offer an equivalent mobile experience, there is value in having a separate mobile URL as a necessary marketing evil.

Now that you have a mobile overview, stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll break down the reasons why  2008 could finally be the year consumers in Canada adopt the mobile web.

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One thought on “2008 – Year of the Mobile Web, Part 1

  1. Simon Rodrigue

    I have to admit that I was very interested to see how .mobi has going to evolve but I now believe that with the success of the iPhone, the launch of Android and the overall trend towards smart phones that .mobi is not where we want to be. With the new technology consumers won’t need the lesser .mobi versions as the smart platforms will allow for a full rich interaction.

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