The new TLD "dotmobi" launches today (FT). With the honourable exception (TechCrunchUK) of the employees of the main sponsors of .mobi, commentators have been generally underwhelmed (Techmeme). When I first asked around for comments in May, my programmer friend Gareth Roberts summed up the problem most succinctly:
"The intention seems to be to create a crippled subset of the web which displays nicely on phones and PDAs. The rate that phones and PDAs are catching up, however, means that this is a white elephant at best, and a cynical ploy to foist ringfenced content on the subscriber, at worst."
Indeed. Get an MDA or anything recently made by HTC and point it at Google or Yahoo!, and you'll see why the "phones" (essentially, palmtop computers) we now have don't need a special TLD to tell a mobile device from a desktop. Mobile telephony isn't on the verge of converging with portable computing - it's already there, and the .mobi domain is just another technical dead-end, obsolete before it was created and already, on the day of launch, waiting to be left behind.