Mobile phone giants unite in search for domain name

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The Independent Online

A new internet domain name for web surfers using mobile phones and other hand-held gadgets is being sought by some of the biggest names in the technology and telecoms industries.

A new internet domain name for web surfers using mobile phones and other hand-held gadgets is being sought by some of the biggest names in the technology and telecoms industries.

Microsoft has joined forces with Nokia, Vodafone, Samsung and Sun Microsystems in seeking a new so-called "top level domain name" to identify websites designed specifically for use on mobile devices.

Following the use of top level domain names such as dot.com, dot.gov and dot.org, the new mobile domain name is expected to be dot.mob or something similar to help mobile internet users search for web pages that will be formatted for mobile phone screens.

The consortium of companies, which also includes Hewlett-Packard and Orange, has applied to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the former US government agency which is now a non-profit making private enterprise, with a range of suggestions although these were being kept secret yesterday.

The idea is to bridge the gap between the internet and mobile phones and create a standard procedure specifically for mobile users.

A statement from the consortium said: "A mobile top-level domain on the internet creates the opportunity to streamline the deployment of new internet sites optimised for mobile usage. This effort is driven by the aim of simplifying the internet experience for mobile subscribers and increasing the use and speed of delivery of mobile internet services."

Mobile phone companies hope that users will pay to access the web while on the move as handsets and mobile services become more sophisticated and powerful. Companies such as Vodafone hope the launch of more powerful, third-generation mobile services will provide a fillip for their businesses and being able to use the internet will be a key part of these services.

The growth in popularity of mobile phones remains strong and was underlined by figures published yesterday by Gartner, which showed that mobile phone sales were up 21 per cent in 2003, to 520 million worldwide, compared with 2002.

Nokia remained the world's leading handset manufacturer with sakes of 180.6m although its market share declined from 35.1 per cent to 34.7 per cent.

Rivals who gained market share last year were Samsung, which rose to 10.5 per cent from 9.7 per cent, equal to 54.4 million sales, Siemens up to 8.4 per cent from 8 per cent selling 43.7 million phones and LG which jumped from 3.2 per cent to 5 per, cent equal to 26.2 million phones.

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