Is 2020 the year of BIMI?

You might notice that in my "2020: What's next?" post, I didn't mention BIMI.

BIMI, aka Brand Indicators for Message Identification, is the new way to specify what logo or brand avatar a sender wants shown alongside their email messages. (Learn more about BIMI here.)

Showing a logo, avatar or little graphic along side an email message isn't a new thing. Gmail, Yahoo Mail and others have supported some form of logo display for a long time now. But where that logo was sourced from, how it was populated, this wasn't always clear or obvious. Gmail would pull the graphic from a Google Plus profile or Google account. Yahoo Mail would do the same, I found, but it also could pull the logo from other places. It had some sort of internal process that I wasn't privy to.  And there's Gravatar, which is still out there and still (modestly) supported. (And at some point, Microsoft announced something called Brand Cards that never seems to have launched. So I have no idea if anybody ever set up or observed a "brand card" logo in the wild.)

And now this all gets replaced by BIMI. BIMI "takes it to the next level" by allowing a domain owner to authoritatively specify via a DNS record what the logo should look like. (It also helps ISPs push senders toward adopting DMARC.)

BIMI clearly is the future when it comes to logo/icon display alongside email messages. But is the future now? Verizon (Yahoo/AOL) has support for BIMI today. Comcast has plans to participate (I think). A Gmail BIMI pilot is coming sometime in 2020. (And nothing seems to have been announced by Microsoft.)

So, one of the top three providers has support for this already, a second one (really the biggest B2C mailbox provider today) is likely to test support in 2020, and the third hasn't said either way.

What that tells me is this: BIMI is coming, but there's a ways to go before reaching critical mass. I'm thinking 2020 won't be the year of BIMI. Maybe 2021 will be, but I suspect it'll be more like 2022 before BIMI really becomes broadly popular. And we'll see if Microsoft gets left behind.

All subject to change, of course. Who knows what'll happen next, and I'm just some random guy with a blog.

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