Long time reader but first time poster .. frustration has finally gotten the better of me.
Let me declare up front that I was invested in .mobi have dropped all the names I had and am out of pocket as a result. So my comments may be tainted by that experience but I believe them to be fair and wanted to share my thoughts with others in a similar situation when renewals come up.
I have long wondered how everything went so badly wrong for a company with so much promise. A few years back mobile internet was going to be the next big thing, the investors were a who's who of the mobile world it seemed destioned for greatness.
In my view the failing was in marketing, getting the .mobi name out there and getting some high profile, high traffic sites to use it. If MTLD had gotten Facebook or a similar site to adopt the name then that would have been it (even if it had cost them several million dollars to do it) people would have seen the name and instantly got the .mobi = mobile idea.
Instead they did absolutely no marketing whatsoever .. a couple of promos with GoDaddy but that is about it. I think that the thinking here was that because they got so many registrations that they would have enough to build critical mass and the domain would market itself. Sadly we all know this is not what happened because the people who bought them fell into 3 categories (1) investors/speculators (2) companies protecting name/trademark (3) developers. Groups one and two never really intended developing the sites and the third group were (and still are) waiting for the extension to gain traction before developing. This is why with 1 million .mobi domains there are precious few with any real content.
So the next question is where did all the money go since we know it wasn't spent on marketing? The answer to that appears to be a string of software failures. InstantMobilizer which seems to have be adapted from Mowser (which the company acquired and did nothing with) was adismal failure .. gained no market share whatsoever, even though it was given away for free, and has now been discontinued.
DeviceAtlas is another interesting piece of development work. At a high level it makes a lot of sense .. mobile devices come in different sizes and with different features .. being able to detect the device and adapt content specific to the device seems like a great thing. BUT it completly obilerates the need for the .mobi name because if I can detect the mobile device on my .com and serve appropriate content why do I need a dedicated .mobi domain? MTLD will tell you that it enhances SEO but that is a complete lie .. when was the last time you did a search on your mobile and had a .mobi returned? Having a dedicated .mobi is actually a bad thing for a company .. for example if I have eatingoutintexas.com and I'm trying to get that name into peoples minds the last thing I want to do is split my budget and spend some on my main address and some on eatingoutintexas.mobi .. I put all my investment in .com and detect mobile traffic and adapt (or not .. see below)
So if DeviceAtlas makes the .mobi name redundent then maybe the company will make its fortune with it? No chance .. when you look at the data in DeviceAtlas (which you can do for free) you discover that the major data source (and the only data source for lots of the decvices is wurfl) which is free!! So DeviceAtlas is just a fancy front end for a piece of free software or am I missing something?
The other big problem is that phones have developed so fast that the need for dedicated mobile sites is getting less and less each day. In many cases now I find it a frustration being served a mobile version of a site (never .mobi by the way) which has completely different navigation to the .com so a well designed .com site works pretty near perfectly and there is no real need for a company to invest in designing and maintaining mobile specific sites.
I guess the rest of the money was spent on MobiForge (great but generates zero revenue) MobiThinking (the same .. great in its day but no reveue), a serach engine whose name I forget, goMobi which is another InstantMobilizer in the making and Trey and co flying around the world attending ICANN meetings.
In summary it is hard to imagine how they could blow such a great opportunity but they did and clearly management at MTLD are directly to blame. Instead of using the money from the domain sales/renewals for investing in the name and creating awareness they squandered it on a bunch of software projects that were doomed from the start. With approx 1M names since 2006 that is a conservative 5 million name sales/renewals at $7.99 a pop. Assuming the registar takes 50% of that it means MTLD have pulled in $20M since launch (I don't know if these numbers are right but they must be close) add to that the original investors money and it must be close to $25M.
So sorry that I have to say this as I once had so much hope for .mobi but the reality is the domain is dead. It is not actively used, it is not actively promoted (and the company has no money left to promote it) it has zero brand awareness and ultimately serves no purpose as phones have got so good and you don't need a discrete mobile address since you can detect and adapt on your .com
If you have renewals coming up I would strongly suggest you have a hard think before you spend your money