I had a long talk with dotMobi's Paul Nerger at CTIA earlier this week. Paul is VP of Advanced Services and Applications which means he works with all the cool stuff that dotMobi is doing to help developers and publishers build better mobile sites more quickly and easily. He filled me in on what's happening at dotMobi which is really quite a lot.
This coming Monday, Sept 15th, the developer portal dev.mobi, which hosts developer forums, the devMobi blog and a wealth of tools and docs will become mobiForge.com. Wth the name change will come a completely redesigned site which Paul promises will be better organized and easier to use. A new feature will be a directory of mobile development resources and a search engine that will enable searching against either mobiForge or the sites in the directory. There will also be a new mobile version of mobiForge at mobiForge.mobi
The mobile site test tool at ready.mobi will soon add the ability to report how your site's score compares against all other tested sites. To make the comparison more meaningful, the current 1 to 5 score will be expanded to make it more granular.
dotMobi's Device Atlas database of device characteristics will get an upgrade incorporating data from three more sources, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and US carrier Sprint. This will also happen Monday. That will bring the number of data sources contributing to Device Atlas to 12. Device Atlas is constantly being improved, In about a month another upgrade will add the ability to override data in Device Atlas with your own data, like you can with WURFL's patch files. Better internal algorithms for comparing and picking the best value when contributing soures disagree are also in the pipeline.
I've always been a little confused about Device Atlas' pricing model so I asked Paul what the limitations of the free unlimited developer license are. His answer was that you can build any number of sites using the free edition of Device Atlas as long as you do not monetize them in any way. Once you include ads or another revenue source, you are obligated to upgrade to the $99/server/year Basic Edition or one of the higher tiers which provide more frequent upgrades. Paul mentioned that Device Atlas was created to provide a high quality device database to snmall and medium publishers at an affordable price. dotMobi is seeing some very large sites including Microsoft Mobile adopting Device Atlas and is considering creating an Enterprise edition and requiring publishers over a certain size to purchase it.
Something else that dotmobi is considering is plugins for popular open source PHP content management systems including WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. These wOULD include integration with DeviceAtlas to create an device optimized version of your site created with one of the CMS.
Although Find.mobi is up for sale, it will soon be enhanced with a new feature. After you run a search, you will be given the option to retry the query using Google or Yahoo's mobile search engine. This is a great idea, you can search Find.mobi for mobile sites and if you don't find what you want, try again using the top two Web search engines to include transcoded PC sites as well as mobile sites in the results.
Recent but not brand new at dotMobi is TA-DA, the Device Atlas test application. Visit ta-da.mobi with your mobile device to see if it is correctly identified and to view what Device Atlas knows about it. If your browser isn't recognized or some data is missing or wrong you can run a series of tests to measure the capabilities of the device and submit the results to Device Atlas.
Finally, I asked James what he though of sites that host non-mobile content on .mobi domains, a pet peeve of mine. He agreed that .mobi sites should be mobile friendly. In fact that is one of the reasons dev.mobi is becoming mobiForge.com. dotMobi has started conducting automated compliance scans of all .mobi domains and will take action against sites that fail to comply. The rules are actually pretty simple:
- Valid xhtml-mp
- A second level domain, i.e., http://domain.mobi must be supported
- No frames.
In addition mTLD is going after domain holders whose sites do not resolve at all. All of which is good news, I'm sick and tied of going to .mobi addresses with a mobile browser and seeing a non-compliant parked ad page or the same PC site found at the corresponding .com. Personally I'd like to see the requirements be made even tougher with, for example, a required minimum Ready.mobi score of 3 or better to weed out even more of the obviously non-mobile sites hosted on .mobi domains. In my opinion, dotmobi's greatest asset is the implied guarante to the user that .mobi address will deliver an obtimized mobile experience.
Paul and all the dotMobi people I've met really "get" what works in terms of web content on current devices. They have a developer and publisher centric view and are commited to providing tools and services to help the mobile web grow by making it easier to build more and better mobile sites. And it's working. dotMobi recently added its millionth domain registration and has seen traffic to find.mobi triple in the last eight months.