Gmail to be first major platform to support non-Latin email addresses

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At the ICANN 50 conference Jordyn Buchanan of Google confirmed that Gmail would support EAI (email address internationalization) by the end of this month.

This is significant news. But what does it mean exactly?

I don’t have the details yet, but at a minimum I assume it means a Gmail user could create an email address using a non-Latin label, such as [RussianName]@gmail.com. And this address would work with others on the Gmail platform, though not other email platforms. And this is not because Google doesn’t want to work with other platforms, but because there are so many mail servers involved in successfully delivering email.

But assuming that this is full EAI support, then the user could also use a complete non-Latin email address, such as [RussianName]@[RussianDomain].[RussianDomain], as illustrated below (Yes, this is a hypothetical Yandex email address)…

Russian email address

I believe this is where Google is headed, particularly since the company has been gobbling up non-Latin TLDs. But, again, I’m just speculating.

I’ve been studying this issue for a number of years in various capacities and I’ve long predicted that email providers would initially support EAI on their platforms only — and that this could create a nice incentive for users to migrate to their platform. Of course, much hinges on how well Google markets this new functionality — and how user friendly it is.

Clearing the technical hurdles is step one. Step two is educating users on how EAI works so that an EAI address is just as easy to use as a Latin email address. For starters, I would even’t use the EAI label.

“Email in your language; email in any language” is more like it.

This is exciting news. As I’ve written before, the next Internet revolution will not be in English.

 

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.