I'm heavily involved in OpenID [in Denmark] and so I'm frequently asked about my opinion on the OpenID technology being able to prevent the next Microsoft of identity on the Internet.

Both are wrong. I don't think that is the purpose of OpenID and I very much doubt that there will ever be an identity monopoly on the Internet, unless forced by regulation. And even then, the next Microsoft of identity sounds more likely than the member states of the UN agreeing upon a single identity provider ;-)

OpenID is one of many great lightweight federated identity protocols well suited for the Internet. I don't hope OpenID will ever become the only federated identity protocol. Choice means competition, and competition means better products. Just look at Firefox. It's probably the best thing that's ever happened to Internet Explorer since Netscape.

One frequent "technology monopoly" argument is that it enables interoperability, but I believe that's confusing a technology monopoly with a standard. We definitely need standards - the OpenID protocol is specified in an ever growing number of standards.

However, in the identity space the argument for a single standard to be implemented across the board [Internet] is down to that of integration costs, and I believe the indirect cost reduction through competition between multiple technologies should more than offset the added costs of supporting multiple identity technologies.

In the face of competition, the promoters of an identity technology will try even harder to make it easy to use, and so get more adopters than the competition. The Janrain RPX service is another very good example of the derived value of competition. The Janrain RPX service makes it easier to implement simultaneous support for multiple identity protocols than it probably is to implement "native" support for any one of the [Janrain RPX] supported protocols.

OpenID is a great choice but so are many of the others.



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Published

14 May 2009

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