Mobile awards not independent, says mobile web standards expert

5 Aug 2008

A founding sponsor of the W3C MWI (Worldwide Web Consortium Mobile Web Initiative), Paul Walsh, has lashed out at what he says are unfair and narrow practices in relation to the upcoming industry event Mobile Web Europe 2008 where sole sponsor dotMobi is concerned.

Walsh said the Dublin-based dotMobi, which manages the .mobi domain, is not only sponsoring the event but also on the judging panel, “and mandates the use of its guidelines and domain name as part of the entry criterion.

“When hosting industry awards, one of the most important aspects is to ensure they are open, inclusive, transparent, fair and above all, independent.

“By independent I mean free from influence by outside contributors such as sponsors and media partners. Naturally, headline sponsors should have a say in a number of areas, but it’s important to restrict their influence,” said Walsh.

Walsh said he would not have an issue with any of this, including the fact that submissions to the awards require the site to be built on the .mobi domain, if the event name reflected this but the awards are “being pitched as independent.”

On the other hand, dotMobi does quite clearly and transparently outline that the Mobile Web Europe Awards 2008 is the official event of the dotMobi Advisory Group with dotMobi also clearly listed as sponsor.

It also has other media partners and official bodies such as the GSA and FMCA listed endorsing the awards themselves and dotMobi does not run the awards itself.

While dotMobi has every right to recommend usage of the .mobi domain, the inventor of the worldwide web, Tim Berners-Lee, has oft stated that any domain, be it .com, .net etc, should be acceptable from desktop, mobile handset or otherwise.

Walsh claimed dotMobi does not just recommend using its domain but actually states it is wrong to use .com when developing web sites that work optimally on mobile phones.

“My advice to dotMobi? It should sell what it thinks are the benefits of buying a .mobi domain, just like we see with .org, .tv or any other domain should. It should simply focus on the advantages.”

By Marie Boran