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Surf any .com with a text message?

Kevin Murphy, April 8, 2011, 15:17:26 (UTC), Domain Tech

A company called DotGo has launched a service it says will enable mobile phone users to access specially built web-based services using SMS text messaging.

This is (borderline) relevant to the domain name industry because DotGo has obtained the phone numbers that spell out DOTCOM, DOTORG, DOTNET, DOTEDU and DOTGOV when typed on handsets.

Using the system, developers use the company’s custom markup language to create a text-based service, for example a news feed, which they dump into their web server’s root directory.

Consumers can then access this service by sending the name of the service’s domain, minus the extension, to the number 368266 (DOTCOM).

So for cnn.com, you’d send the message “cnn” to 368266. CNN would then reply with a list of headlines from its RSS feed, say. You’d then reply with the number of the story you want to read.

Or you could text “weather 94110” to the same number to quiz weather.com about the forecast in San Francisco.

If this sounds overly complicated, there are a few demos you can try in a normal browser that may explain it better.

The DotGo service has been around for about 18 months, but it’s only today that the company has launched its suite of tools for developers.

The service appears to be ad-supported, free to both developers and users at the basic level with subscription-based upgrades available.

It’s all very clever, but will anyone want to use it? I hear there’s a thing called an “iPhone” nowadays that does a pretty good job at bringing the web to mobile users.

The service seems to be only available in the US (though the web site is pretty vague on that count) and no, DOTMOBI isn’t an option.

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