Mobile World Congress: DotMobi database to help mobile developers

DotMobi, the group that promotes and manages the mobile-phone top-level domain, is publishing a list of specifications for virtually all phones on the market in a bid to make life easier for developers.

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DotMobi, the group that promotes and manages the mobile-phone top-level domain, is publishing a list of specifications for virtually all phones on the market in a bid to make life easier for developers.

While such lists are available from other companies, this one will be cheaper, making it more accessible to smaller developer companies and individuals, said Paul Nerger, vice president of advanced services and applications for dotMobi.

Unlike the PC market, where most computers and widely used browsers comply with accepted standards, mobile phones each have different specifications and attributes. Developers must tweak their applications and content for different phones, even those running the same operating systems, so that the content fits onto the phone screen and so that applications work properly on phones that might not have certain capabilities.

The same phone might even have different requirements based on the operator that sells it, since service providers sometimes disable features. That makes it hard for developers to build applications that can be used by a very wide population of phone owners.

While dotMobi's list doesn't solve that problem, it does make it easier for developers to identify characteristics of phones and deliver applications to them that will work well. That should encourage more mobile development, Nerger said. "Our job is to make the mobile 'Net happen," he said.

The database will be free for anyone to view and browse. Developers can also choose to buy dotMobi's device detection software, which they can use to detect attributes of phones that are connecting to their Web pages in order to deliver content and services that best suit the devices. The prices have been set to cover dotMobi’s costs, Nerger said. Developers will pay US$99 (£50) a year for the software; dotMobi customers will pay $79 (£40).

DotMobi first announced that it was developing the list, which aims to include phones for sale worldwide, in the middle of last year and originally intended to release it at the end of 2007.

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