The Internet's key oversight agency gave a preliminary nod Monday to new domain names targeting mobile services and the jobs market.
Sponsored by leading mobile phone and technology companies, including Nokia Corp., Microsoft Corp. and T-Mobile, the ".mobi" domain would set apart Web sites and other services that are specially designed to work around the limitations of cell phones, including their smaller screen size and data capacity.
"Microsoft.mobi," for instance, might carry smaller photos or fewer graphics than the main site at Microsoft.com.
The ".jobs" suffix, meanwhile, would go to members of the human resources community.
A company might keep job postings at "Company.jobs," rather than force visitors to navigate the main site, whose home page tends to have only general information about a company and its products.
In October, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number, the organization named by the U.S. government in 1998 to oversee policies over Internet addresses, gave preliminary approval to ".post" for postal services and ".travel" for the travel industry.
That means ICANN can begin negotiations with the applicants of all four suffixes on creating and running the domain names. The process could take months, and officials warned that there was no guarantee the domains would ultimately be accepted.
Pending before ICANN are six other proposals, including ".asia" and ".xxx." ICANN did not say when it would decide on those.
There are currently about 250 domain names, mostly for specific countries like ".fr" for France. A ".eu" for the European Union also is in the works.
In 2000, ICANN approved seven new domain names for global use, the first major additions since the Domain Name System was created in the 1980s.
The four names that have received preliminary approval differ from most existing names because they would be set aside for specific industries and interest groups. Applicants paid $45,000 apiece earlier this year to have their proposals considered.