Adobe and Google release open source CJK font family

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 1.50.04 PM

This is the result of a massive investment of resources and expertise — and I’m excited they’ve made it open source.

From Adobe:

Source Han Sans, available in seven weights, is a typeface family which provides full support for Japanese, Korean, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese, all in one font. It also includes Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic glyphs from our popular Source Sans family. All told, each font weight in the family has a total of 65,535 glyphs (the maximum supported in the OpenType format), and the entire family rounds out at just under half a million total glyphs. Never before has a typeface family of this magnitude, development scope, and value been offered via open source — which makes it a no-cost solution for designers, developers, and everyday users who need a font supporting a broad set of languages.

Google has named the font Noto Sans.

 

 

 

 

Google launches its first Japanese IDN

I’ve long talked about the importance of non-Latin domain names, or IDNs (Internationalized Domain Names).

Google has gone live with one if its many IDNs: みんな.

I want to emphasize here that this is a top-level IDN — that is, the equivalent of a .com or .org.

This TLD, according to Google, stands for “everyone.”

So you could in effect register “someword.everyone,” which sounds a bit odd to me but I’m not Japanese.

And, frankly, the Japanese have not been blessed with much in the way of IDN options up to this point.

There is no Japanese-language country code, for instance. And few Japanese-based companies have been aggressive in promoting IDNs.

The new Google IDN website leads with a headline that translates to Let’s Start With.Everyone.

japanese IDN Google

Check out the video to get a good idea of how Google is positioning this domain against .com and .jp:

Despite the fancy website and video, I don’t believe Google is fully invested in the success of this domain.

If it were invested, the domain wouldn’t cost roughly $18 to register (by my rough calculations).

But that doesn’t mean Google can’t become invested in it at a later point.

The good news is that Google is moving ahead on commercializing IDNs.

I expect other tech companies to follow. 

Is Pocari Sweat the next Gatorade?

pocari_sweat

It used to be that you had to travel all the way to Japan to be amused by the popular drink Pocari Sweat.

The drink has been around since 1980 and is popular in a number of countries across Asia.

But you can now get this drink on Amazon and select stores. Judging by the chatter I’ve seen in various online circles, it’s becoming a cult hit.

So I have to ask: Is this drink going to be huge in the US one day?

The name alone is not easily ignored.

I’d love to see it succeed here, though not as much as I’d love to see Yunker succeed here.

 

 

Tips and Best Practices for Targeting an APAC Audience (Part II)

Here’s my latest post for client Pitney Bowes:

Any company with global aspirations cannot afford to ignore the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. It’s a region that includes more than two billion people across more than 20 countries, ranging from Australia to Indonesia to China and Japan.

This article (the second of two) offers a few web localization tips to keep in mind.

An excerpt:

Don’t Be Colorblind
Colors carry cultural and emotional significance. And sometimes colors mean very different things depending on the culture. At a Chinese wedding, for example, the bride typically wears red, not white. This alone should underscore just how important red is in the Chinese culture.

White is more often associated with death, and some companies go so far as to avoid packaging their products in white (though Apple seems to have done quite well in spite of this perceived hurdle). One key point to keep in mind is that red is positive and green is not so positive, at least so far as the stock market is concerned.

china_stockmarket

Shown here is a daily summary of the Shanghai Composite Index. While the red text may appear ominous to a Western investor, the stock market actually finished up 12 points this day.

Here’s the full story.

And here’s Part I.

Tips and Best Practices for Targeting an APAC Audience (Part I)

Here’s my latest post for client Pitney Bowes:

Any company with global aspirations cannot afford to ignore the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. It’s a region that includes more than two billion people across more than 20 countries, ranging from Australia to Indonesia to China and Japan.

But it’s also a region with significant linguistic, cultural, and political diversity. The APAC acronym may be useful in helping to think regionally, but when it comes to expanding into a given region, the best thing you can do is quickly narrow your focus to one or two specific countries.

This article (the first of two) offers some high-level strategic best practices to consider and focuses on four countries: China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.

A few excerpts…

According to China’s Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), there are now 460 million mobile web users in China. In many parts of Asia, an Internet user and a mobile user is considered one and the same.

And…

Some companies have registered the .asia domain as a pan-Asian “front door” to their websites. But this domain is best used as a regional landing page only — one that users then click through to their country websites. Country codes also send a strong signal to search engines that your website is indeed local — resulting in improved search rankings (provided you’ve also invested in translation).

Here’s the full story.

The next Internet revolution will not be in English

taking .com global  IDNs

Imagine if, every time you wanted to visit a website, you were expected to type in letters from a foreign language, or worse, an entirely foreign script, such as Arabic, Cyrillic, or Chinese.

For more than a billion people, this is how they experience the Internet today.

The Internet was designed to be global, but it was not designed to be multilingual. For decades, this limitation was most evident in website and email addresses, which permitted only a small set of Latin characters.

Fortunately, over the past decade much work has been done to allow website addresses to support non-Latin characters, referred to as internationalized domain names (IDNs). More than 30 countries, ranging from Saudi Arabia to South Korea, now support country code domains in their native scripts.

For example, Russians no longer have to register a domain using the Latin (.ru) country code and may instead use the Cyrillic equivalent .Рф. And evidence of these new URLs are becoming more visible. Kremlin’s new Cyrillic URL is http://президент.рф. The leading Russian search engine Yandex can be located at http://Яндекс.рф, and the address of Russia’s largest mobile carrier is http://МТС.рф. These addresses are fully functional, and modern web browsers support them.

But what about a local-language equivalent of .com?

ICANN, the organization that manages the domain name system, is in the process of allowing not only local-language equivalents of .com, but an entirely new wave of top-level domains known as generic TLDs (gTLDs). More than a thousand applications have already been filed for these new domains, ranging from .apple (guess who applied for this one) to .book (yes, Amazon is hot for this domain, among others).

Much controversy has erupted over the value or need for all these new domains. Many people claim that .com is good enough, like Esther Dyson, who says “You are creating a business, like derivatives on Wall Street, that has no value.”

Dyson, I would assume, is speaking more about the introduction of Latin-based domain names, and I  understand where she’s coming from. But her sentiment implies that the Internet naming system is largely fine as is.

She is wrong.

For more than a billion web users, .com has always been a foreign address.

Local-language domain names do have value. And they will improve the usability of the Internet.

VeriSign, the registry that manages .com, is now pursuing a Russian transliteration: .ком, as well as variations in Chinese and Hindi.

And a number of companies have applied for local-language equivalents of their brand names. Amazon has applied for the Japanese version of its name (アマゾン), and Philips has applied for the Chinese-language equivalent of its name (飞利浦). Both names were recently approved by ICANN and could be functional by the end of this year. You can peruse all gTLD applications and their status here.

The fact is, IDNs are here, and many more are coming. And the regions these IDNs span constitute more than 2.5 billion people, most of whom do not speak English as a native language. The regions also represent where most of the growth in Internet usage will occur over the next decade.

We’re inching closer to a linguistically local Internet, in which people no longer have to leave their native languages to get where they want to go.

This is a positive development for making the Internet truly accessible to the world.