The next billions of internet-users use Arabic, Urdu and Farsi as their native language and alphabets– what is their current experience of web-usability?
London May 15, 2012. A new Multilingual Internet is coming in 2013, one that will open the doors to many billions of customers, citizens, correspondents and contributors that currently are excluded by the dominance of English and the western alphabet. Although pages may be translated, most web addresses demand ASCII script-based on the western alphabet, making it harder for those not familiar with these characters to navigate the web effectively.
To further understand the issue, and provide insight for effective solutions, the Multilingual Internet Group www.MLiGrp.com has launched an extensive market study of Internet usability focused on the Arabic, Urdu and Farsi regions, communities, and languages.
The study will aim to research the usability of the Internet to date, identify the remaining challenges for the coming Multilingual Internet and their coming multi billion Netizens.
The study is not limited to Internet users in the states where Arabic, Urdu and Farsi are generally used, but will include native speakers of these languages all over the world for whom their language has always been an extension of their heritage and identity especially on the Internet.
Timed to prepare the ground for the coming Multilingual Internet next year, ICANN’s new gTLD program, recent efforts by the United Nations, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the U.S Department of Commerce, to extend the reach of the Internet, the research results will be invaluable to any business or organisation seeking to engage with new internet populations speaking these languages.
The study will also include interviews with regulators, key officials with lectures and educational seminars on the coming Multilingual Internet to internet users in key capitals in these regions.
The launch of the study is also timed with the Multilingual Internet Group beta launch of MLi-Media www.MLiMedia.net, its latest Multilingual Internet service. The Group will soon announce a number of other new services to help global, regional and local organisations develop Multilingual Internet services.
A key objective of the market study is to learn more of the needs of these netizens and their communities to identify the missing critical components, infrastructures and key supporting services crucial to make them want to jump into the coming Multilingual Internet.
The study also aims to work with and learn from the experiences of several country code registries. It is worth nothing that in last 2 years, ccTLDs (including Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE and others) have deployed Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) in their local languages. Their experience of the uptake of these domains will help identify other challenges facing ICANN’s IDN gTLDs when they are deployed. A number of ccTLD registries have already indicated their willingness to participate and cooperate with our study to identify the remaining challenges standing in the way of serving emerging market netizens better.
Launching the research project, Mr. Khaled Fattal, chairman of The Multilingual Internet Group, said: “We are really thrilled at the prospect of this market study and of going directly to end users as citizens to tell us what they want and need. We have also reached out to local country authorities and regulators whose responses to cooperate have been excellent. The study will either confirm what we know or teach us what we did not know.“
“In recent years the Internet user needs and habits all over the world have changed; nowhere more so than in emerging markets and especially in the Arab world since the “Arab spring”. Internet users have doubled in the region in the last 2 years and we expect this change to be more significant in 2013 and beyond. Times like these require diligent awareness of these changes and trends.”
The study will focus on a qualitative track and a quantitative track which will include an online survey that will be deployed in a few local languages and which will be announced shortly.
Fattal concluded, “This market knowledge is vital to lay a solid foundation for the next billion+ Internet users who will not come from the west but from these emerging markets in the next very short years. They still lack many infrastructures and services to make their use of their own language on the net a seamless user experience. Our goal is to lead in serving them and their empowered aspirations.”
The Multilingual Internet Group also welcomes interest from those who wish to learn, support, participate, contribute to this study and our other future studies, activities and findings.