ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) this week gave the green light to a new internet suffix: '.mobi' - thereby denoting internet pages tailored for viewing on mobile telephone screens.

Thus far consumers worldwide - other than those in Japan and Korea - have remained unenthused by mobile internet access. In those nations, cellphone technology is several years ahead of the Western markets.

In other parts of the globe, surfers find it slow and cumbersome to download internet pages via cellphones. They also complain that sites cannot be properly displayed on the much smaller handset screens.

With over 1.8 billion cellphones in use worldwide and nearing saturation despite camera phones and other gimmicks, the mobile industry is desperate for the next big USP and sees the internet as tomorrow's golden egg-laying goose.

Panting to exploit the '.mobi' domain are such cellphone giants as Hutchison 3, Ericsson, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Syniverse Technologies, TIM, Telefonica Moviles, T-Mobile and Vodafone.

The new domain names will be available in the first half of 2006, with registered trademark owners being given the first bite at the '.mobi' cherry.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff