One of the most significant developments taking shape in 2010 is the all out footrace to power the mobile internet. iPhone, Google Android, and Amazon Kindle are three of the more visionary platform entrants. The pace of innovation in the area of mobile internet is breathtaking. Forward-thinking domainers can profit from this megatrend.
A growing trend in the US is to “cut the cord”, i.e. to use the mobile phone as the primary phone. The corollary to cutting the phone cord is to use a mobile device as a primary internet access device. Outside of the US, there are many economies that completely skipped fixed line internet and have greater than 50% mobile internet penetration. As more personal data moves into the cloud, and as costs for mobile data fall, look for this trend to accelerate.
For domain developers, I believe there are two primary considerations:
1. The rear-view mirror is not a good indicator: At current traffic sources and browser sources, it would be easy to conclude that mobile traffic is too low to be a priority. The average % of sites across the Epik network that is being accessed by mobile browsers is under 5%. The reflex conclusion here would be to not develop with the mobile user in mind. I believe that this conclusion is short-sighted. There will be a #1 on the mobile web for a range of tasks traditionally conducted on the desktop: finding a restaurant, find a Wi-Fit hotspot, finding a beauty salon, asking a question, finding a place to park, searching for patents, file a consumer complaint, scheduling an appointment and eventually, shopping for products. After all, worldwide, the majority of the web users are already mobile web users. As such, to ignore the mobile web user is short-sighted. Moreover, the user experience will improve very quickly.
2. Advertising is not the primary source of revenue for mobile apps — and likely won’t be. All indications are that 2010 will be the year of the mobile app. Not only will we have a vast number of iPhone apps, but now Android apps, Nokia Apps, and perhaps even Kindle Apps (rumored), etc. Many of these apps can and will combine (1) an up front fee to install the app, and (2) recurring fees for using it. Domains have a role to play here. For openers, there is affiliate-based income for promoting apps. However, I believe far more interesting is to partner with an app developer who may need a better domain name for promoting their clever new app on one or more mobile platforms. For example, earlier this week we picked up the domain name Personality-Quiz.com (on the drop). We are now working to find an iPhone app developer with experience in the area of do-it-yourself personality assessment.
Finally, for anyone looking for a good primer on what is going on mobile, check out this monstrosity of a slide deck, authored by Morgan Stanley. Thanks to Steve Epstein, CEO of IDN Options, for bringing it to my attention.