A new wave of Web addresses

Catherine Holahan
28 Sep 2006
00:00

More than a century after the U.S. government held a race to settle Oklahoma, the World Wide Web is hosting its own land rush to claim uncharted domains. On Sept. 26, Ireland's dotMobi launched a public sale of top-level Web addresses with a new dot-mobi extension. The company's goal is to create a whole new swath of Internet territory populated with pages that are completely compatible with cell phones and personal digital assistants.

In the first two days, dotMobi registered more than 88,000 new domains. That's not many compared with the 105 million addresses registered worldwide since 1985"”more than half of which end in '.com.' But the speed at which names are getting taken has made the new extension a wild success by dotMobi's estimate. 'People are taking the names and they are putting them into production,' says dotMobi CEO Neil Edwards. 'It took dot-com years to do 100,000 names.'

'CashingIn.com'

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TRADEMARK FEARS.

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) general counsel, Sarah Deutsch, says the land grab is more of a forced march, where big-name companies are warned to buy a claim or risk brand damage. 'Anytime one of these top-level domains is introduced, we are forced to register these domains proactively because if you don't do that, you are going to find your trademark infringed. It might be linked with pornography or phishing or fraud,' she says. 'Companies are forced to come in and protect their crown jewels.'

Deutsch says the new dot-mobi name doesn't offer Verizon and some other companies anything that they can't do with their dot-com or dot-net names, which can be accessed by wireless communication devices and formatted to work with smaller screens and limited bandwidth capabilities. A dot-mobi address is different in that dotMobi ensures its sites are formatted to work with cellular phones by offering free templates, instructions for developers, and a user guide with examples. The company also monitors addresses for compatibility with wireless devices and alerts users to portions of their page that don't work. It will eventually expunge Web pages that are not in line with necessary requirements.

Edwards says Deutsch and others who share her opinion are failing to grasp the benefits of having an extension where everything is accessible via a handheld mobile device. 'The problem has been that trying to take the PC-based experience to the phone failed [with other Web addresses],' says Edwards. With a dot-mobi extension consumers will be able to enjoy their Web experience more from handheld communication devices and companies will have an additional way of advertising to a targeted audience, he says.

BAD PRECEDENT.

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