Deep Interview about .mobi domains with Pinkard Alan Brand from dotMobi
By Javi Ruiz Pablos
(1) [Domisfera.com] What is your full name?, Where do you come from?
[Pinky Brand’s response:] My full name is Pinkard Alan Brand. Everyone calls me by my nickname, which is "Pinky." I am originally from Houston, Texas. Since 1998 I have been located in the Washington D.C. area after selling my first domain name related business (idNames) to Network Solutions. You can obtain information on my background and history by visiting my personal mobile site at pinky.mobi or my PC-based web site at pinkybrand.com.
(2) What did you do before working in dotMobi?, How do you begin in the domaining world?
In the 80s I worked in the television news and advertising industries. In the 90s I became an entrepreneur and started investing in a variety of businesses. In 1996 I became very interested in the domain name industry literally after seeing the original InterNIC WHOIS site in the middle of the night. The next day I co-founded a ccTLD registration company called idNames that I later sold to Network Solutions when they were still a monopoly. This company went from $0 to $33 million in annual revenue in 4 years. In 2002 I co-founded a corporate domain name registrar called Arcemus that we later sold to Iron Mountain. It does millions in annual revenue as well. Again, you can obtain information on my background and history in the domain name industry by visiting my personal sites at pinkybrand.com or on mobile at pinky.mobi .
(3) What is your daily work in dotMobi?, How is any day for you in the firm?
I am the Director for New Markets at dotMobi. That means I’m working with domain name professionals, domainers, content, brand and trademark owners and others worldwide to inform them about the mobile Internet ecosystem opportunity, to register .mobi names and how to develop relevant and compelling mobile Internet content. I also share responsibility for policy and processes related to the allocation of our Premium Names.
(4) How many people are working in?, In how many countries?, What are their professional profiles?, How many languages speak all the people that are the team of dotMobi?
Information about the experienced dotMobi Senior Management team is at http://pc.mtld.mobi/mobilenet/about_srmanagement.html
dotMobi offices and personnel are located in Ireland, China and the United States. A variety of languages are spoken by dotMobi personnel.
(5) How many dotMobi Register Agents are in the world of dotMobi?
We have over 120 accredited registrars in Europe, Asia and the Americas. A listing can be obtained at http://pc.mtld.mobi/switched/findaregistrar.html .
(6) Could you tell me exactly how many .mobi domains have been registered until now?
I am unable to provide an exact figure, but it’s over 335,000.
(7) What is the monthly growth rate of the .mobi extension?, What is your estimation about the number of .mobi domains registrations for the next 3 years?
I’d rather not comment, but we are pleased with our performance to date.
(8) I suppose a lot of .mobi domains are still in the development stage but according to calculations and analysis of the state done by dotMobi, what percentage of domains .mobi are developed?, Which are your estimations and forecasts about it?
I don’t have figures to share, but I do know there is quite a bit of development activity going on and we are encouraged by the activity we are seeing, especially since we started offering free tools such as our MobiReady Report and dotMobi emulator through our dev.mobi site. You can also check out some of the latest new .mobi sites by visiting our site at dotmobi.mobi . I’ve even linked to some on my personal mobile site at pinky.mobi.
I’ve also noticed a variety of free content building sites being offered by our registrars and by organizations such as mobiSiteGalore.com. I think we will all look back and see 2007 and 2008 as turning point years in the development of off-deck mobile content.
(9) One countryman (albertodominguez.es) has an axiom that for Domisfera is very true: "the best way to kill an extension is to let it be in the hands of speculators. The reason is very simple, the pure speculator doesn’t develop and doesn’t promote the domains, something essential to increase the popularity and credibility of one extension ".
The initial and actual retention of premium .mobi domains under the supervision of dotMobi is done to protect the extension of this axiom?
I’m not sure if you were making a statement or asking a question, but I’d like to let everyone know that the objective of our Premium Name process is to create a more level playing field in the allocation of these names and increase the likelihood that these domain names will more promptly provide the mobile community with new features and services. I’m not aware of any TLD registry that has ever attempted to offer Premium Names on such a large scale. We just began allocating some of the Premium Names in last October and are offering a few names via an RFP process that will conclude next month. We will continue to test various allocation methods and may even refine the process if necessary in order to ensure that mobile-specific content is developed.
It’s no secret that every TLD has its share of speculators. As you know some people call them "domainers." That is a fact of life in the domain name business. This activity is likely to continue in ALL TLDs unless the ecosystem changes. I would suggest that the ecosystem for the mobile Internet is different than for the PC world and do not believe that all domainers are not interested in developing content that would make their inventory far more valuable in the long run. So for domainers or whatever you want to call them, I believe 2007 is the time to grasp at the incredible opportunity to learn and develop business models based on developing compelling mobile content and search.
(10) In one of the last initiatives of dotMobi, It has announced a contest for the transfer to the best proposal of development:
However all that domains are in English. Domisfera has evidence that dotMobi retains premium domains .mobi in Spanish, Have you thought any initiative similar for them?.
As your web is only in English, have you thought about stimulating that kind of actions and initiatives for spanish .mobi domains through latinoamerican and spanish blogs?
As you may know we have about 5,700 Premium Names that we intend to allocate via various methods such as online auctions, live auctions and RFPs in 2007 and 2008.
The first two batches we offered were in English. Of course we intend to allocate some Spanish and other language Premium Names in the future and welcome the opportunity to work with Latin American and Spanish blogs to discuss the opportunity. I would invite anyone who has questions about any particular Premium Name (Spanish or not) to contact me and I’ll do my best to get an answer to you. Or maybe we can do a live chat sometime with your readers?
(11) It’s undeniable that the live auction of T.R.A.F.F.IC. supposed a great change of the .mobi aftermarket state. All weeks we can see sells of .mobi for a lot of money that hardly could be happened without the sells of flowers.mobi ($200.000) and fun.mobi ($100.000).
Certainly this has supposed a gold mine for english spocken domaining world. Do you think that this trend can be expanded to other languages if dotMobi promotes auctions and contests for spanish .mobi domains?, What opinion deserves to you the domainers activity?, Do you consider that the success of .mobi can be in their hands?
I firmly believe that there is tremendous opportunity for Spanish-language mobile content and for related Premium Names. We intend to work closely with TIM and Telefonica to reach out to the South American and Spanish markets in 2007. As for domainer activity, please see my response to your question #9 above.
(12) While T.R.A.F.F.I.C . was ending, all the media of the industry were putting flowers at the feet of the promoters for the high figures reached in the live auction, where flowers.mobi was sold by 200.000 $.
Domisfera was very sceptical, and didn’t believe in the results. Ironically invented the word .mobipulation.
At this point, I must ask you directly something you can imagine now… Was the price of .mobi domains of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. agreeded beforehand?.
I find this question insulting. dotMobi has always acted in a forthright, ethical and legal manner. It is absurd to think that anyone at dotMobi would risk our reputation and career, not to mention the reputation and vision of our original founders and well-known investors, to devise and execute such an outrageous scheme as you seem to be alluding. At no time did we agree, suggest or infer to anyone that any particular price should be paid for any dotMobi Premium Name put up for auction at TRAFFIC. No "deal" was made with anyone at anytime. We are honest and hard-working professionals, not scum.
Sincerely,do you really believe flowers.mobi worths the price paid for it?, How many would have you paid for it if you would have been vey interested in it?
I have not yet formed any thoughts on that particular name or any particular name that was auctioned at TRAFFIC East other than I think that the prices paid indicate that the market believes in the mobile Internet and is bullish on our approach to improving the mobile browsing experience and eventual traffic that flows from such an improved experience.
Buyers must believe that there is a future in what they are buying or they would not participate—at any price. For example, when I worked with my original business partner at idNames to pay $150,000 for business.com in 1997 (later sold for $7.5 million) he and I both had no idea what the future would bring—in fact many told us we were crazy to spend that kind of money. But at the time we did know one thing for sure—the future was coming and the Internet was going to multiply—and we were going to be involved in it one way or another. I continue to believe the future is coming (if you get my slight pun/joke here) and that in particular the mobile Internet will strengthen and multiply its influence worldwide.
(13) There have been a lot of veiled critics to the .mobi extension. Some even from important lobbies that have made rough remarks against it. Is there any base for that critics according to you?, What will you claim to this people in favor of .mobi?, How do you justify and argue the existence of .mobi?
Much has been written about dotMobi and it is my view that most comments have been positive. We welcome open discussion. Everyone wants a mobile Internet experience that consistently works regardless of device or location. I highly suggest participating in the discussion by visiting our blog at blog.mobi . We have plenty of commentary to be found there!
(14) I think the marketing department is really good and effective, Could you tell me what is its yearly budget for this year and for the next years?, Will they buy press notes in spanish written media?. I see you very focused in the english spoken market, when do you attack the spanish spoken market?
I couldn’t agree with you more, we have very talented people at dotMobi! As for budgets, we are a private company and do not disclose financial information of this type. As for reaching out to non-English markets, as stated before we are working closely with TIM and Telefonica to reach out to the South American and Spanish markets in 2007.
(15) Do the obligation of registering a .mobi doming during two years is due to economic interests or is due to strategic interests?, Are you afraid of the no renewal of .mobi domains in two years if you can’t strenghten and implant the extension in Internet by this date?
In my 11 years in this industry I have found that two-year initial registration is rather standard in the domain name industry as a whole. It is beneficial to the registrant, the registrar and the registry. No TLD registry, including .mobi, is ever guaranteed they will receive a renewal, regardless of the initial term, whether it’s 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years or 100 years. The TLD must be relevant in order to succeed over the long term —- and to me that means there is compelling content and an efficient and expanding ecosystem. As I’ve said before, .mobi is not just about purely registering domain names; it’s about creating an environment that makes any mobile device as useful as a PC for browsing and data services. We aim to be the critical link between the mobile operator, Internet services and the users.
(16) DotMobi has in the background a lot of big multinational corporations that move and support it with money, a lot of money, but really, what are you determined to do to achieve this extension can penetrate and install socially in the mobile phones?, Do the possibility of failure pass over your minds?
There are plenty of other ways any of them could get into that game if they wanted to. All of them are in this because they and we are determined to create an environment that makes any mobile device as useful as a PC for browsing and data services. One such initiative among several we are working on right now is to default mobile device addressing and search queries to .mobi domains first. Another is T-Mobile has stated it intends to leverage .mobi within their "Web’N'Walk" and "Office in Your Pocket" strategy. And as mentioned before we are working closely with TIM and Telefonica to reach out to the South American and Spanish markets in 2007.
To the second party of your question: Any business, including yours, has the possibility of failing. I would say that we are pleased with dotMobi’s performance to date and that we are positioned for continued success. The record of our investors and our senior management team stands on its own.
(17) From a personal and hypothetical point of view, If you have good .mobi domains in ownership and you have good offers for them, will you sell or retain that domains?
I’m not sure I fully understand your question, but I always take a long-term view with any investment. With domain names I believe it is more profitable in the long run to develop real content than to engage in speculation. I have a few .mobi names that I registered online just like everyone else and intend on developing those names in 2007. One such name is my personal mobile site—please check it out at pinky.mobi . It only took me about 30 minutes to set it up, for free. Anyone can do it.
(18) Have you any advice or message that you want to communicate to the hispanic market?
I can’t say it enough. Develop content. The mobile Internet needs it. dotMobi and our investors are working hard to make sure that consumers, mobile operators and content providers are aware of our value proposition. Entrepreneurs and domainers who are first on the block with real content have a much better shot at attaining success in the rapidly growing mobile world vs. those that just sit back and do nothing. Think where .com was ten years ago. I believe it won’t take nearly as long for .mobi to have an impact.
As for what kinds of content to develop? I’d recommend targeting information services that consumers say they are most likely to want to access in the next twelve months. Such categories include traffic information, news, public transport timetables and information on public services, film listings, job hunting. Also I think the implications for couponing and social networking are tremendous.
(19) After that complicated interview, if Domisfera ask you
for a premium domain as Christmas present, will you concede it if
Domisfera make the promise of not telling anything to nobody?
Ha ha. Very funny! I don’t think that is going to happen! Thanks for your interest in dotMobi. I hope we can work together to keep your readers updated on dotMobi in the future!
Javi Ruiz Pablos, www.domisfera.com
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