Wednesday, April 21, 2010

xAuth: Second Tier IDP Club

I learned today that the toolbar company Meebo today announced a proposed standard called xAuth to solve the so called NASCAR problem of OpenID.

The essence of the solution is to create a centralized database ( where users preferred IDPs are listed. For example if you use Google Friend Connect then DB saves that preference for you. Now the publishers/RP that you visit, make a call to (upon your visit) and learn that you prefer to "login" using GFC and only show that logo to you instead of a dozen logos from FB, Tweeter, Yahoo, AOL, Google, Microsoft, VeriSign and whoever else who jumps on federated ID band wagon.

My initial reaction (emphasis on initial) is "Are you serious?" and "Is it opt-in or opt-out" (apparently it is opt-out).

Two comments:
1- Of course collecting all people's information in one central database make a lot of things easier/smoother or more efficient, but there is a reason we don't do it (at least not yet), regardless of how noble the initial intent maybe.

2- And this is important, identity provider business is one of those things that have a real network effect, that means by definition and nature, in the IDP business there can not be dozen winners, it is a winner take all type of a game (or maybe a few - two, three) winners at most. NASCAR problem exists because no one wants to admit that it will not be one of the winners. But time will take care of this. For now support for xAuth seems to have become an admission of membership to "Second Tier IDP Club". after all if you think you are going to be one the winners, why would you want to remove your logo from the NASCAR race?


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