Here are my thoughts, Terence:
I’m glad you won a free .tel domain and have had the chance to quickly and simply populate it, without developing or hosting a website. As you say, a completely different domain. But then you state:
.tel is yet another top level domain to go with all those other highly (/profitable/) popular ones. You know, like .biz, .museum, .info, etc.
I love that play on profitable/popular (in the original post, "profitable has a strikethrough), especially since .tel was designed so that it would be totally different from any other TLD: no websites, and therefore no parking pages, no ads, no redirects, no popup, popunders or malware. That was pretty clearly understood by the domainer community, whose more entrepreneurial members are building new revenue models based on communications services.
Now you think a conversation will go like this:
"Visit aitch-tee-tee-pee colon slash-slash edent dot tell... No... Tell. It's spelled TEA-EE-EL. Yes. Just one EL. No, I don't know why. Here, let me write it down for you on a little cardboard oblong..."
Here's how the real conversation goes, as I've had it happen at least a hundred times already with my domain that I've had for over a year:
"Contact me on henri.tel"
"Oh? on the web?"
"sure. everything's there. phone, email, skype.."
And then the inevitable happens when I get an email from those people:
"I love your henri.tel! so simple! Where can I get mine?"
Now compare that to:
"Got a pen? write down my number: 1-202-5551212"
"and what's your email?"
"oah yes, it's email@example.com. With an f, not a p-h"
Finally, you wonder about why it's so plain:
First of all, why not take a look at the site. edent.tel... [Snipped a whole discussion about how ugly it looks]... no panache, no style. Just dull dull dull text.
In your opinion it's dull. I guess that’s because you work for a mobile telecommunications company that wants people to spend lots of money downloading content over your mobile internet. Dull in this case means cheap, quick and accessible. Usability does not mean whizzy, colourful, mesmerizing – it means functional. When I want to contact you, I don't care about pretty pictures. I want to click-call as quickly as possible.
Sure I could have your info in my address book, but I'll never know if it's the right info. Getting it really fast from the Net is the way to do it. You can cache it (except for the iPhone not understanding vCard, but with a native app there's no problem), but that would be your choice.
Speaking of "pretty", the website you went to is simply a basic interface to the actual data stored in the DNS. You do not need the website to get to the data. A number of applications already understand .tel domains and go straight to the DNS to grab the data, making the whole idea of "pretty" totally moot. Your .tel is a personal, distributed and privacy-enabled datastore for your contact information. Not a website. Any connected device can read that datastore (because they read DNS) and display it any which way it wants. The website is just a convenience. A simple, quick and standardized convenience. In fact, you do not want the web if you can avoid it. It's slow and inefficient. Using one of the plug-ins for Blackberry or Outlook for example, they pop .tel data in your address book and cache it intelligently, and there's no need to download a static VCard that will get obsolete.
One thing you will have spotted however if you’ve done your research rather than a quick on-spec is that we listen to our users. We’ve tweaked and continue to tweak the interfaces for the web browsers. But because you’re sucking information from the DNS into a proxy page, this isn’t the be-all and end-all. We’ll continue to listen, even to members of the community who have guest passes and didn’t pay their money – including you Terence! Thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts down and I hope you appreciate we read everything and try to respond where we can.
One more point I’d like to make in your comparison. SyncML depends 100% on having supported phones. What if I'm in front of a computer and I have my office phone? Or Skype? or a softphone (like Kiax for example http://sourceforge.net/projects/kiax). The idea of a universal point of contact works when you've got the following features:
- ubiquitous access
- very fast
- very cheap if not free
- easily updated
- owned by you so that you're independent of any service providers
That is what ZYB can never be, and that is what .tel is. However, with an account on ZYB, you could easily update your .tel and sync to ZYB or vice versa. Use ZYB to push the SyncML data to who you want, but edent.tel is significantly lower level, works pretty much every way, and is guaranteed to be yours even when Vodafone decides that ZYB should be discontinued for some reason.
Your .tel is your own personal, distributed datastore for your contact information, public or private, for as long as you decide.
I hope the above explains to you what we know that .tel is, and I hope you can now make a decision on whether to keep your .tel next year – keep your eyes open for updates however!