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May 17, 2016 (Tue)

.手机 (Mobile Phone) to Become the New King


Well, that's what the registry's ad is telling us. Here's how it explains: Traditionally, the Internet is about .com + website as the core. In the mobile Internet age, it's all about mobile phone + unified entry to the Internet. .手机 is an innovation in domain name system that will overturn .com in the global extension space, it says.

The registry is pushing the idea that companies should use .手机 domain names to consolidate all their social media connections - Baidu handle, Weibo, Weixin, and app download - into one place, so consumers can find the companies easily. In other words, .手机 is the entry to the corporate world's social media connections.

Now, let's look at some facts. China has 620 million users accessing the Internet from mobile phones, so it seems a mobile phone extension is perfect for developing websites for mobile phone users. But this is not necessarily true, because today any domain name can be developed into a website that can respond to the screen size and adjust itself accordingly.

Although .手机 has been available since the end of 2014, the number of registration is still tiny at 20,464. This shows a lack of interest from the corporate world.

I did a site search on Baidu but it did not even return any result. Google was surprisingly better, giving me 1,070 pages of .手机 websites. I visited more than a dozen of the websites and here are what I found:

  1. The .手机sites appear to be based on the same template.

  2. They are all designed for mobile phones only, but do not adjust to the larger screen when viewed on a PC.

  3. They have little contents to excite visitors, containing mostly links to Baidu handle, QR code, Weibo and other social media.

I also found some funny combinations too, such as 烘焙.手机 (bake.phone) and 巧克力.手机 (chocolate.phone). There are also a few names in English too, such as coffee.手机 (coffee.phone). Finally, there is even a single character name 粥.手机 (porridge.phone). Want to bake.phone or have some chocolate.phone for your afternoon tea?

Seriously, I think this extension has value and can play a role in the domain space. It should be positioned for a niche market - companies related to mobile phone business. Also, the domain name should be short and relate to the extension. The whole name should flow naturally.

Here are some examples of what I consider good use of this extension: 修理.手机 (repair.phone), 买卖.手机 (buy/sell.phone), 选择.手机 (select.phone), and 极级.手机 (ultimate.phone). Unfortunately, none of them have been developed into websites.

Finally, I think it's unconceivable .手机 will overturn .com and become the new king. Language is one barrier. The extension simply cannot be used outside Chinese communities. Also, it is limited by the fact that unlike .com which is neutral in meaning, .手机 is limited by the fact that it has a meaning so will only be a niche player.