Since October 2016, Xgenplus has offered email address internationalization (EAI) in support of linguistic diversity online. “Our goal is to break the language barrier for people who want to communicate online in their own language instead of English,” says Dr. Ajay Data, the Xgenplus Founder & CEO. The company, based in India, initially launched its beta version in 8 Indian scripts and 5 international scripts.
The initial catalyst for developing the email service was the offering of . भारत (Bharat) IDNs via the Indian TLD registry, a government initiative. Seeing the opportunity to break the language barrier, Xgenplus started developing their system to be EAI ready in 2014.
In India, government support has been key for the success of EAIs. For instance, public initiatives help to bolster EAI use and linguistic diversity. Dr. Data, Chair of the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG), notes the government of Rajasthan who offered email addresses to 70 million citizens in Hindi and in English with Devanagari script. “One year on from launch and we currently have 5.85 million active Rajmail email users,” says Nitin Walia, Director of Data XGen Technologies. This approach has been adopted by other countries as well, with KazNIC in Kazakhstan offering a similar service. Governments can also take initiative to adopt similar services within their own organisations, which can have a positive impact on the speed of EAI uptake. This is helping to create awareness and hopefully create a wider market push for these services in both public and private sectors.
Equally important for raising awareness are traditional marketing strategies like print, radio, or TV ads, sponsoring, and school outreach. This is because reaching a target audience which includes people who may not yet be Internet users, or are only recent adopters, presents a serious challenge to building a market, particularly for individual users.
Supporting EAIs is not an easy task, particularly without widespread updates and with various operating systems and platforms reacting differently to the technology. However, Xgenplus claims to have remedied the cross-platform issue, at least among fellow Xgenplus users. The technology is continuously being improved, and with the major operating systems including iOS, Android and Windows supporting EAIs, it is expected that obstacles to interworking will soon be smoothed out. Xgenplus offers its email app in both iOS and android mobile platforms, including speech to text capability and enabling users access to all their emails on the Xgenplus platform.
Xgenplus also addresses backwards compatibility issues by pairing ASCII names with EAIs. If a message fails in a way that suggests the system does not accept EAI mail, the downgraded message is paired with its ASCII EAI alias which enables email delivery even when not on a supported (i.e. UTF-8) email service.
As reflected in the annual surveys for the IDN World Report, improving Universal Acceptance is seen by the domain name community as a foundational requirement for a truly multilingual Internet where users around the world can navigate entirely in local languages. This is a key element to improving user accessibility through linguistic diversity online. Mr. Walia highlighted that to achieve Universal Acceptance, Internet applications and systems must treat TLDs in a consistent manner, including a variety of domain names in different scripts and languages.
Xgenplus hopes that the work they have done to increase the use of EAIs will build awareness of IDNs more broadly and increase Internet access and use by a wider range of people and their local languages and scripts.
Emily Taylor is the CEO of Oxford Information Labs. She is an Associate Fellow of Chatham House and is the Editor of the Journal of Cyber Policy and co-founder of ICANN accredited registrar, Oxford Information Labs.
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