When the .mobi domain launched in September 2006, people quickly understood it was a Top-Level Domain (TLD) designed to locate mobile content in the same way — for example — that .se locates Swedish content or .museum helps users recognize genuine museum activity. In short, think "mobile phone" when you think ".mobi".
Now, the .tel domain is launching ... and people are asking, "Won't .tel help me locate content that will work on a phone — mobile or not? Do I still need a .mobi domain?"
The purpose of these two domains is very different. There is no overlap except in that they can easily work together to make content creation a bit easier.
To better understand, think of ".tel" as being shorthand for "telephone directory." The .tel domain allows users to put personal or corporate contact information directly in the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS), which then makes that contact information universally accessible. In other words, you update your information in one place and it then populates across every single place where you reference that .tel domain.
This is a unique application for a Top-Level Domain. Definitely, .tel does not act at all like other Top-Level Domains, where the DNS provides a mapping between domain names (like dotMobi.mobi) and IP addresses (126.96.36.199), so that users can more easily find content instead of worrying about the numeric sequence of the IP address.
In practical terms, this means you would likely use "MyCompanyName.tel" to create a simple "address book" style entry that would be repurposed across a wide range of digital media and traditional media as "See MyCompanyName.tel for ways you can reach us."
You use "MyCompanyName.mobi" as a way to tell your customers and prospects, "I have a site designed for your needs when you're on the go. This is where you come when you need information that meets your mobile needs." For example, "Where's the closest ATM?" or "What's on the 'to go' menu so I can order now and get it as I walk by?" On .mobi pages such as these, you might insert a link to MyCompanyName.tel so that your customer will always have the correct contact information.
Adding to the confusion ...
... is that the team behind .tel have issued collateral that indicates that they believe .tel is a good mobile solution because (1) it uses DNS lookups rather than pulling traditional HTML content and (2) that traffic generated by a .tel lookup is small, so that it's fast for consumers to access.
Given many of the things we've learned over the past three years, I can say that there may be some interesting mobile applications that can be done with direct DNS look-ups but it's not going to be related to a true mobile web presence unless there's a mobile web site involved. And more to the point, what business or brand wants its mobile web presence limited to its contact information instead of a robust, loyalty-building site offering the full interactivity and capabilities of the mobile web?
Will .tel be easy and fast for contact information? Absolutely. Is .tel available for rich content beyond contact information? No.
So, despite a second or two of confusion, I think it's easy to see how a .mobi(le phone) can easily work with a .tel(ephone directory) — and also see that there's really no overlap between the two domains.
Headquartered in Dublin, dotMobi - a wholly owned subsidiary of Afilias Limited - is a worldwide leader in enabling the development & discovery of quality mobile content through innovative services, in turn helping businesses and individuals reach the world's billions of mobile phone users. dotMobi spurs mobile industry innovation by giving content providers the tools they need to ensure the Web will work on mobile phones with speed, accuracy and relevant content. (Learn More)
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