.Mobi Domains Have Been Around Since 2006 So Why Do We Need A .Mobile & .Mobily

Everyone is the domain name industry is quite aware of the history of the .Mobi TLD and the various stories behind it.

The .Mobi Registry started selling domains in 2006 at the TRAFFIC auction even before launching.

Now it seems its deja vu all over again, as four applicants are going for very similar new gTLD’s.

There are three applications for .Mobile that would be .Mobi +le and one application for .Mobily which is .Mobi + ly.

Now beyond the question of how ICANN would ever approve these extensions when the ICANN Guidebook clearly says that new gTLD cannot be confusingly similar to an existing TLD, how do these applicants hope to compete against an incumbent, shorter TLD?

The question is even more interesting when you consider the applicants.

Amazon is one of the applicants for .mobile as well as the domain industry veterans that comprise Donuts, Inc.

According to the most recently filed Registry report with ICANN for February 2012, there are 1,038,210 registered .Mobi domain names.


  1. L says

    No shock.
    The idea that there’s any inherent ‘wisdom’ to this process or these applicants is ridiculous.

    You’d think that a person who’s managed to attain millions of dollars in personal wealth, enough to involve themselves in this process, would have their intellectual shit tight, but plenty have enormous- often times, funny- gaps of basic insight that are totally exploitable.

  2. icannt says

    people will be queueing up to sue icann or the applicants if they go through
    should be a great popcorn fest
    it’s possible they will though as icann has proved itself time and time again to be a corrupt, illegal institution

  3. says

    Mobi isn’t a word, nor is it a recognized acronym by most people (tv is, for example); whereas Mobile is a word and an expensive keyword in online advertising.

    Mobily is a brand in development.

    N0-brainer, IMHO.

  4. says

    Things just got really weird in the domain universe… I feel like once an extension is more than 4 characters it’s no longer an extension, it enters a new realm of weirdness. The general public will be very confused for sure…

  5. says

    Yeah I noticed this yesterday when scanning the reveal list at the ICANN event in London and had been wondering if anyone else would apply for anything similar.

    Yes the guidebook says that a new gTLD cannot be confusingly similar to an existing TLD so it will be interesting to learn more about these applications and if any objections are filed. Protecting 1,000,000 + names and the cashmoney recurring revenue that comes from a very decent veteran renewal rate for .mobi is nothing to sneeze at.

    By the way, in October 2006 at TRAFFIC it was the first time that a top-level domain registry (.mobi) tested an initial offering of “premium” names direct to the public in a live auction setting. The names auctioned were celebs, wow, gossip, stockquotes, flowers, hot, party, laugh and fun. However this was a few short weeks AFTER the landrush and start of general registration, not before as you mentioned. Tiny point but just clearing that up.

  6. Jp says

    What am I missing here. Mobi has 1M domains out there at what like $8 a pop (registry wholesale). Icann’s fee is less than .50 cents per domain right? So mobi makes $7.5M a year? This can’t be right. What am I missing? And so if this is right um that’s a lot of money. After expenses still plenty left for Salaries. We know their marketing expenses are low.

  7. Kevin says

    I think one of the biggest issues all the gTLD’s are going to have is with email addressing confusion.

    Folks are going to think Mike@.Lawyer is an error and then send email to either Mike@Lawyer.com or Mike@.Lawyer.com.

    And with that goes potentially sensitive information.

    Good luck getting the average Joe to understand all this.

  8. says

    @JP – Existing TLD domain registries can and make money. Lots of it. Registry RENEWAL wholesale prices can vary and can be higher than the amount you mentioned. I’ve dealt with many over the years—like 235+.

    It’s a cash business for many. Typically registrars must pre-fund their accounts with a registry. Collections/bad debt is not an issue. Credit cards may not be accepted from registrars. If costs are kept low and you keep your renewal rates above 50% (preferably well over that of course) you don’t have to be .com to make a good profit. The trick is getting to a sustainable level of base registrations if the goal is certain ROI or operating profitability over a period of time.

    Other registries may not have the same profit incentive. Example: .CAT is successful in serving their community but does not have a zillion registrations.

    As you many know, .mobi (or .cat) did not have to pay any fee like $185K +++ to ICANN to get up and running, although I’m sure the initial costs to get up and running were not non-trivial.

  9. L. Asher Corson says

    This is the best thing to happen to dot mobi since Rick bought flowers.mobi back in the beginning of the TLD. Mobi rise!

    Of course, it’s not like the registry itself has ever or will ever help to increase the value of .mobi domains.

  10. Michael H. Berkens says


    Thanks for the clarification on the timing.

    I assume .mobi will be objecting to these strings

  11. Michael H. Berkens says


    Finally you got it

    That’s why companies are investing $30 Million, $60 Million, $100M+++ to get the right to own Registries.

  12. Michael H. Berkens says


    Its part of the learning curve that will take time, no doubt but that will be shortened because of hundreds of registries all marketing their right of the dot extension at one time.

    So to help you out, because your confused as well in your example if you registered the domain mike.lawyer then the email address would be something like info@mike.lawyer or if you registered the domain criminal.law the email address could be mike@criminal.law

  13. Michael H. Berkens says


    Your are a domainer that is the business you are in

    They a registry. That is the business they are in.

    The registry is in the business on selling domain name registrations and their premium inventory if they have any.

    The registry is not in business to increase the value of your domain.

    Verisign doesn’t do anything to increase the value of your .com’s either.

    The registry could turn around and ask you what have you done to get more people to register .mobi domains.

    That’s not your job.

    Increasing the value of your domains in not their job

    They are different businesses in the same industry.

  14. L. Asher Corson says

    @ Mike

    It’s clear that registries spend vastly different amounts on marketing and promoting their TLDs. The efforts of .co have been far more impressive and beneficial for domainers, for example, than the efforts of .mobi. And for the record, I own some .mobis and zero .cos.

  15. L2 says

    Alas, more than a few of the registries like .mobi and others (.cctlds) built their “base registrations” on trademark infringement fears. They solicited defensive registrations. .xxx is the most recent example. But this has been going on for a long time. It began with the cctlds (tlds for the various countries). The message to trademark holders was: “You need to register a domain name in every country code extension, in .mobi, .xxx, etc. to protect your trademarks.” It worked like a charm. And some folks (e.g. ICANN and its followers) just keep playing that same strategy again and again. Keep creating new tld’s. and make the trademark holders pay up.

    Sure, it’s a profitable business. The costs to create and run a registry are very low. (Especially if you do not use SRS.) The cost to add a line to a text file — i.e. create a domainname that is a direct match of an existing trademark — is zero. Yet it can be sold for a massively marked up fee ($0 –> $8) that is repaid year after year. But is that a legitimate business? Is it extortion? You are using someone else’s trademark to make money. How far can you take this? How many registries can you put in the ICANN system before companies say “No more. We’re not paying. We’re suing instead.”

    On a small scale, this scheme works. History shows it. It has enriched a small number of people greatly. Pat yourself on the back. But now ICANN is opening the flood gates. They are drawig more scrutiny.

    The cliches that keep coming to mind are: “Pushing your luck.” and “Killing the Golden Goose.”

  16. John Berryhill says

    One of the proposed .mobile applications is for a closed TLD which Dish Network wants to use exclusively for its own services, btw.

  17. says


    You’d think someone might oppose, but I’m not a lawyer, and as you know I don’t work at Afilias or dotMobi anymore so I really don’t know if and what action will be taken.

    Your comment to Asher—I could have not said it better myself.


    I would have to say that .co has executed some great strategies in marketing a repurposed ccTLD that is not overseen by ICANN delegation rules and regulations, nor had to deal with 14 different investors and philosophies that .mobi had from the start. .mobi had to play by some rules that no new TLD applicant might accept going forward. I applaud their efforts and wish them continued success.


    dotMobi did not build a business model around defensive registrations. That’s a bunch of baseless talk that cannot be supported by the facts. Do you really think that original .mobi investors like Google, Nokia, Microsoft, Vodafone, VISA and a host of other big shots got around a table (and then with ICANN) and said “let’s see how we can all divert attention from our primary business models that make billions to build a start-up TLD registry business that’s going to take the time of one of our guys to attend board meetings every month to figure out to extract money from trademark holders? Really? Come on. Sunrise trademark registrations make up less than 2% of the existing base. I know because I was intimately involved.

  18. says

    Maybe domain investing has jumped the shark – mobile apps are all that seem to matter anymore and once those (apps) get more robust functionality in the aggregate, domain values will whither away.

  19. Accent says

    Quoting MHB: “Increasing the value of your domains in not their (the .Mobi registry’s) job”

    .Mobi was marketed specifically to domain investors, with many promises made and every indication that the marketing would continue. Then the company stopped most promotion and abandoned their promises.
    Protecting the value of .mobi domains was a job .Mobi invited.

    Quoting Pinky: “.mobi had to play by some rules that no new TLD applicant might accept going forward.”

    True, but they stopped playing a long time ago.

    Mobi was advertised as having standards that would ease the use of mobile devices. These standards were never enforced, although it was three years before the registry admitted they weren’t going to.
    .Mobi values then crashed -95%.

    Two quotes:
    “To reiterate, we want to be flexible early on as people experiment with their mobile pages, but we must ensure that the general public who visit the sites get a consistent and reliable experience…otherwise everyone will lose in the long run. ” [Pinky Brand / Namepros.com / Dec 2006] (Pinky spent an hour talking up the extension at Namepros. I appreciate that. The problem is that the company did not follow through.)

    “dotMobi is about so much more than compliance and the things that we are working on right now will truly help build the extension. We have several big projects bubbling up which will add ten times the value to the domain.” [Caroline Greer / Mobility.mobi forum post/ Aug 2009]

  20. Louise says

    @ MH said

    The registry is in the business on selling domain name registrations and their premium inventory if they have any.

    Thank you for clarifying! That naughty, naughty Verisign – I KNEW it is crossing the line selling domains and premium inventory. Thank you.

  21. L2 says


    No, I am not suggesting that scenario you describe.

    What I am suggesting is that the success of a company like IDNames


    inevitably depended on corporations, specifically their marketing and legal departments, seeking to protect their trademarked brands from the threat of domain names in a sea of country code domain name registries around the world.

    And I am suggesting that this would have raised awareness to the economic potential of any new registry that can also create such domain names. And this can be replicated by any new global registry that makes it into the ICANN root.
    (Perhaps that was never the intent with .mobi. You would know better than I what the intent was.)

    But I am suggesting this potential of making money through defensive registrations is known to many new gTLD applicants. Defensive registrations (along with inside sales of premium names) are the main income producer for many registries. That is what I am suggesting. These are the names that are consistently renewed. If we took away that element of the business (i.e., made it impossible for someone to register someone else’s trademark as a domain name), then running registries would not be so lucrative for each and every registry, new gtld’s would not be attracting so many shady characters, and ICANN, a “not-for-profit” organization, would not be generating a $10/20/30MM slush fund for litigation by charging $185K application fees.

    .mobi may be an exception. Maybe it is only 2% trademarks (though .mobi raised controversy in other ways when trying to sell premium names).

    But to say defensive registrations are a negligible factor in every new registry’s “success” is, based on my research, a false statement. Hopefully that is not what you are saying. If .mobi is only 2% defensive registrations, then I should not use that as an example.

    Now, assuming defensive registrations and inside sales of premium names is the main draw for founding a new registry, consider why we need another .mobi[le] registry if .mobi already exists. The answer becomes quite clear.

  22. Michael H. Berkens says


    I know you moved on from .mobi I was just asking for your personal opinion.

    I really didn’t expect you to answer, but you can’t blame a guys for trying.

  23. Tom says

    dotMobi CEO, Trey Harvin is a consummate master of deception liar, a true arrogant wolf contained within an innocent sheep’s clothing.

    I pray he experiences a horrible life.

    just one example of Trey’s .mobi “promises”

  24. Barmeu says


    Any chance that .mobi actually increases in value now since they are established.
    They have over a million regs way ahead of everyone and still making money.
    What if they rebrand .mobi again.

    I mean who ever gets .mobile will be lucky but you really think they will sell registartions to the public. Not a chance imo.

    Half of these new extensions are not going to be selling domain names to other people like yourselves. They are for the companies personal use.

    Good luck I am excited to see the next pump and dump extensions come out.

  25. says

    Is a compromise possible where .mobi domain owners get first refusal on the same name in .mobile? Then there would be no conflict, and maybe a reward for the disappointed .mobi buyers of yesteryear.

    No one here has quoted actual usage figures for .mobi, just registration levels. Is there any info on that?

    The real message from .mobi is a registry can go bust so be careful what you build on.

  26. Jp says


    I wouldn’t say mobi went bust. They have about 1M registrations so the registry is making somewhere around $8M a year. I think that’s a good number. It was just a bust for domainers.

  27. says

    JP they did actually fail as a company, final year losses were over €2m and similar the year before, and all the companies that started Dotmobi dumped it – all the shares went to Afilias, who may even have been paid to take the embarassing failure off the hands of shareholders Nokia, Google, Microsoft, Visa and so on . Had Afilias not stepped in it Dotmobi probably would have been wound up as a company. Their financial statements are publicly available, but now of course they are a subsidiary of Afilias so it is not so easy to identify their performance within Afilias.

    Now if a venture with such big name supposedly shrewd investors and a substantial registration pool can get into terminal trouble, what do you expect from speculative startup TLDs? If your domain name goes down the toilet with a TLD it takes all your links with it.

    I’d also be totally untrusting of any promises made by startup registries about future policies, renewal rates and so on – they can always move the goalposts, as some of the mobi moneylosing posters above have reported.

  28. Snoopy says

    How do they hope to compete with .mobi? How do you compete with a basket case extension that nobody really wants or needs? Very easily. I guess the big question is why anyone would want to compete given how .mobi is turning out.

  29. says

    a dot ninja nobody care but what can we think of a dot islam …
    Progress means cuting/ divize people like new gtlds depending on sex orientation, taste, opinions, politics
    so what is the difference with a dictatorship ??

  30. says


    a dot ninja nobody care but what can we think of a dot islam …
    Progress means cuting/ divize people like new gtlds depending on sex orientation, taste, opinions, politics
    so what is the difference with a dictatorship ??

  31. says

    Mobily is the brand for a large MidEast telco. They have applied for .Mobily and the IDN equivalent in Arabic. Given the co-existence of co/com, il/li, cn/ch, int/info, etc/etc, and the different purpose of .Mobily, I would argue there ought not be any confusing similarity with .mobi.

  32. says

    Yay… “looks like the www’s first UsTLDRP (Uniform sponsored Top Level Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy) in the making!” 😉

  33. bareuma says

    You will .mobi contiue to make sales outside of the US just like they are right now. No they are not a big seller but they will surrive.

    Look to China and south africa, for .mobi. Remember .mobi can be rebranded in no time.

    Many laugh at .mobi but they will still be a top to 10 extension based upon regs after this is all said and done in 5 years.

    No one can name one extension that will get more than 1 million registrations. Maybe .web will but .co is on its way to 2 million. Market is already flooded.

    .com is the king. What happens when these dummies try to get a .insurance name or .loan name and then you have people trying to register kansas.insurance and or california.insurance what do you think will happen when they try to email the parent .com versions. Mass confusion on it’s way.

    Still great .com names availiabe for under 1k that have secondary meanings.
    Google going for zip guess what means people? any idea I do.

  34. says

    If .mobile succeeds, it doesn’t matter what the registry says the TLD means, people will register it and use it however they see fit. I wonder how many .tv names have anything to do with Tuvalu? How many Bit.ly URL shortening customers know .ly is the ccTLD for Libya? (Yes, I know it redirects to a .com, but they still pay the registry for the .ly every year.)

    What really shocks me as a web developer is when a non-techie, non-domainer small business owner tells me he or she has already registered the .mobi for their mobile website.

    I personally find great SEO value to .mobi, and I know .mobi portfolio holders who are using the string objection (rightly so). I have a few .mobi’s left and it would be nice to not have to go through the landrush nonsense to replace them in .mobile.

  35. says

    I’m a proud .mobi developer and new to the .mobi extension although I’m not new to developing alternate extensions. Came across a unique opportunity to build an online cruises website along with getting a .mobi ranked in highly in Google.

    I just started this project less than a month ago and am working to get top ranking for cruises.mobi in Google within a year. Obviously catering to new customers comes first but all engines are on to making this a reality! I truly agree that once the world is able to see a few shining examples of .mobi out there it will raise awareness of the extension as a solid brand.

    Mobileholly, great comments…and anyone can follow our progress on the sites captains blog!

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