The Localization of iPhone

So I gave in to my inner geek and purchased an iPhone.

One of the things I first noticed (and love) about the Web browser is the .com button on the keypad, shown here.

iPhone keypad

Of course, this little shortcut isn’t so handy if I want to visit a .org or .edu Web site.

It’s also not much use for visiting country-specific Web sites, such as www.yahoo.fr.

Which is why the localization of this interface is going to be an interesting thing to watch evolve.

It is just a matter of time before we see the iPhone launched around the world. So does that mean the .com key will be replaced by .de or .fr keys? I imagine so.

This will give companies yet another good reason to register country code domains. While a Web user in France may first go to acme.com and then navigate to acme.fr when visiting a Web site. Using the iPhone, it’s likely that person will simply go to acme.fr, an example of a new interface changing user behavior.

The other interesting thing I’ve noticed on the iPhone so far is that it doesn’t appear to be using a “conventional” Unicode font. That is, I’m finding that the interface displays Chinese and other Asian scripts just fine — as well as Cyrillic — but it can’t display Arabic or Hebrew scripts. What this says to me is that Apple doesn’t have the Middle East on its near-term global expansion plans. My guess is that it’s using the scaled-down font to conserve drive space. Documentation is hard to come by so far so I’d love to hear from anyone out there who knows more about this.

I’ve been to Europe once so far and the iPhone held up quite nicely; AT&T didn’t hit me up for too much in roaming fees. It is interesting — though not surprising — that you can’t de-activate cellular roaming and just rely on Wi-Fi. I did have a faulty power adapter but got that replaced at the Apple store with no resistance.

But back to the Web browser. I know this has been said many times before, but this is the first phone that makes browsing the Web about as easy as it is on a computer. And I suspect that over time this will have an impact not only on how companies develop Web sites in the US, but how they localize these sites for markets around the world.

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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.

2 thoughts on “The Localization of iPhone”

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