As the Internet access device of choice for many consumers rapidly shifts from their desktops to their smartphones and other mobile devices, many small businesses find a sudden need for their websites to present not just a compelling experience for home users but also for mobile users on the run.
The main problem to date, for many small businesses, has been the lack of a small business computing platform that makes it easy and cost effective to have a mobile presence that's on a par with its full-sized desktop pages.
Add to that requirements that it be easy to set up, that it includes hosting, and that it provides tools that make maintaining professional-looking mobile pages simple for a small business owner who doesn't have a lot of time.
But First, Introductions All Around
DotMobi is, in Internet terminology, a top level domain (TLD) and it is the registry operator for the .mobi TLD -- .mobi for "mobile" -- in the Internet's domain name system (DNS). Most people are more familiar with other TLDs such as .com, .net and .org. All TLDs are governed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
However, dotMobi does not provide that service directly to consumers, instead providing it through "registrars," who in turn register domain names that have the .mobi extension to users.
The DotMobi TLD was originally founded by 14 companies, including Nokia, Vodafone, Google, VISA, Microsoft, Ericsson, Samsung and T-Mobile. DotMobi is the only TLD exclusively for mobile websites. It began registering .mobi domains in 2006.
DotMobi was acquired earlier this year by Afilias Limited, an Irish Internet infrastructure services firm. Afilias is also the registry operator for the .info TLD.
DotMobi's new goMobi service provides a set of high-level design tools that will enable small business Web designers -- as well as other small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) -- to quickly build mobile-compliant Web pages.
However, what if the customer has a feature phone instead of a full-on smartphone?
"All goMobi sites use a friendly, icon-based design, and all goMobi sites automatically recognize what handset your customer is using, so goMobi sites make every phone seem like it's a smartphone," Trey Harvin, CEO of dotMobi, said in a statement.
GoMobi Aims For SMBs
Most small businesses these days have their own Web presence of some sort, varying from social networking sites like Facebook to more traditional ecommerce sites.
However, owners of small businesses are often too busy to learn how to build their own websites, much less have a mobile website. But a website designed for desktop PCs and notebook PCs spills off the phone's smaller screen.
And potential customers visiting a website that's hard to read and navigate may remain just that -- "potential customers."
Professional services, even when they are small business Web designers, are often expensive, especially when it comes to daily or hourly or even minute-by-minute maintenance. And what about the cost of an ISP?
"All goMobi websites are hosted 'in the cloud' by dotMobi, so SMBs don't pay for hosting or have to worry about other technology aspects," Harvin added.
In addition, goMobi provides an icon-based, mobile designer toolset that lets you construct mobile-optimized pages that function as effective small business marketing tools, according to dotMobi.
In a demonstration video, for instance, a small business Web designer building a mobile page for a restaurant used goMobi to quickly pick from lists of features that online restaurant websites typically provide -- such as "Request Reservation," "Hours of Operation," and "Special Offers" (replete with mobile "coupons)."
Social networking links also feature strongly in the list of available site features, which include ties to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs. Another feature lets a mobile user send SMSes (Short Message Service -- i.e., texting) to friends.
Additional goMobi tools let the small business Web designer apply themes and color palettes to mobile pages.
Expanding Markets By Going Mobile
By building a simplified page layout and design system, and providing many pre-built features as menu items, dotMobi is clearly targeting less technical small business ecommerce owners.
The company pointed to a recent survey it commissioned from Human Factors International.
"The research showed that 68 percent of consumers would rather visit a made-for-mobile website versus a designed-for-desktop-version, when using a mobile phone or portable device like an Apple iPad," dotMobi's statement said.
Name.com was the exclusive beta tester for goMobi, according to Bill Mushkin, CEO of the Denver-based registrar.
"Given the ease and speed that anyone -- from tech amateur to design professional -- can now build and deploy a mobile website with goMobi, I'm positive that the current boom in mobile Web use will grow tenfold in a short time," Mushkin said in a statement.
Of course, only time will tell about that prediction.
Name.com is the first registrar to offer goMobi, but others are in the queue. Several, including Tucows, Network Solutions, InterNetX, and EuroDNS, are ready to come on line "in the coming weeks," dotMobi's statement said.
A dotMobi spokesperson said she couldn't comment on pricing for goMobi, since prices are set by the registrars. "However, they [dotMobi officials] suspect it will be somewhere in the $30 to -$100 dollars per year range depending on the features desired," the spokesperson said in an e-mail.
DotMobi publishes a list of accredited registrars on its website
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