Stakeholders across the board are coming together to help build Indian language capability on the Internet, a complex problem in India given the diverse languages and scripts.
The UASG (Universal Acceptance Steering Group) is a multi-stakeholder group under the aegis of the “telephone directory” of the Internet-- Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
It consists of members from more than 120 companies including Apple, GoDaddy, Google, Microsoft, governments and community groups.
The work that UASG is doing will ensure, for example, that an email address in the Hindi script is identified as an email domain, and the receiver is able to see the emails sent from this address.
“The biggest challenge is in reaching the decision makers,” said Ram Mohan, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Afilias, one of the world's most well-known technology service providers for Internet domains.
Explaining why universal acceptance is important, Mohan said an investment in the local languages is about making sure that all applications, operating systems, chat applications and social media applications are able to recognise what a new domain name is.
Mohan noted it is particularly important as even if one types out an email address in the Hindi script it is identified as an email address and automatically underlined in blue. Similarly, if one is typing it in Microsoft word, it should automatically become a link. Mohan is also a Board member at ICANN.
Last year, a study by Analysys Mason found that online revenue opportunity in enabling local languages was a $9.8 billion growth opportunity.
Go get around the issue of reaching decision makers, Afilias has partnered with the Internet and Mobile Association of India and the National Internet Exchange of India.
“We worked with Google and Gmail has completed their programme. It completely accepts internationalised email now. We are also in the middle of working with Microsoft to have Outlook also support Indic languages,” said Mohan.
Over the past couple of years, there has been an increased focus on voice-based technology for search and other products. Big technology companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, all have their voice assistants.
There is also talk of domain names losing their relevance in the world of curated content when people seldom type out entire web addresses.
“I have so much hope in the future of voice in Internet technology. It will solve stuff on the input side,” said Mohan.For instance, if you tell Cortana or Siri or Alexa to send an email to an address with letters in Hindi, it may not understand this is an email address. If you say email@example.com, it will know. UASG is looking at sorting out these issues.