.mobi Auctions Raise More Questions Than They Answer

I’m not going to rehash my point of view on .mobi; I’ve done so plenty before, and plenty of holes have been poked in their plans on other sites as well. Needless to say, I’m not a big fan. And I find their plans to auction off so-called premium domains nothing short of ridiculous. The justification is that the process keeps the domain names out of the hands of “parties who would only sell them on the aftermarket”. These auctions do nothing nothing of the sort; they simply take money that would otherwise be spent in the secondary market and put it in mTLD’s pockets, furthering the opinion that .mobi is little more than a massive moneygrab.

It’s a cunning plan, and one that’s worked like a charm:

The first set of nine dotMobi Premium Domain Names were auctioned via
Moniker.com during the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East domain conference on October 27,
2006, and achieved record results for a new TLD (top level domain). Selling
for $200,000 and $100,000, flowers.mobi and fun.mobi respectively, are
among the top 20 domain sales for 2006 – unprecedented for a newly
introduced TLD (top level domain).

They’ve even got a nice quote from the guy that bought flowers.mobi, saying his company “looks forward to launching the world’s first mobile site for flowers and becoming a dominant force in this new space.” His name? Rick Schwartz.

I’m sure this is just a coincidence, but “Rick Schwartz” also happens to be the name of a guy who anointed himself the “Domain King” several years ago, and made $20 million reselling domain names, including $1.32 million on men.com. This appears to the same guy who claimed in a 2005 Business 2.0 article that he makes $2 million a year from domain parking, and who also sits on the board of the World Association of Domain Name Developers — the very group that puts on the domainer trade show T.R.A.F.F.I.C East at which .mobi held its auctions.

Like I said, I’m sure this is just a coincidence and these two people just happen to share the same name. But if not, and the buyer of flowers.mobi does turn out to be the same Rick Schwartz that a simple Google search shows is a well-known and experienced domainer, it would seem to completely undermine mTLD’s claims that their motives are so pure, that they’re not interested in the money, and are holding these auctions as a means to equitably distribute .mobi domains. These claims weren’t convincing before; with each press release mTLD sends out, they get less and less credible.

[tags]mobile, mtld, .mobi, dotmobi, tld, domains[/tags]

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