2008: Momentum 12

OpenID Relying Party Adoption - Jan 2009

2008 was an awesome year for OpenID where the community created significant momentum moving toward mainstream adoption.  No, not every site on the web is using OpenID nor does every consumer know what OpenID does, but last year alone the number of sites that accept OpenID for sign in more than tripled1.  Today, there are over thirty-thousand publicly accessible sites supporting OpenID for sign in and well over half a billion OpenID enabled accounts.

  • AOL2, Google3, Microsoft4, mixi (the largest social network in Japan)5 and Yahoo!6 have all shipped OpenID Provider implementations with nearly all of them supporting OpenID 2.0.
  • In addition to many of the independent OpenID Providers already supporting the ability to exchange profile data, Google added the ability to do so in a limited fashion with AOL7, mixi8 and Yahoo!9 have all introduced it in a limited beta fashion.  This means that OpenID users signing into your site will easily be able to share information like their preferred username or email address if they wish to do so.
  • A number of major sites added support to sign in using OpenID including AOL’s MapQuest10, Google’s Blogger11, Microsoft’s Health Vault12, SourceForge13 as well as the commenting services TypePad Connect14 and Intense Debate (which in turn enabled Barack Obama’s Change.gov15).  Google Friend Connect also enabled any site to support OpenID sign in via JavaScript16 which thousands of sites have done.
  • Google, IBM, Microsoft, VeriSign, and Yahoo! joined the board of the OpenID Foundation17 bringing additional insight, complementing the community board members and helping financially support the organization.
  • A Japanese chapter of the OpenID Foundation was formed in February18 and has since added nearly forty-five member companies19; including merchants, portals, educational institutions, insurance companies, manufacturing companies, airlines and banks.
  • The BBC hosted twenty-six people from seventeen organizations in New York City to kick off an OpenID Content Provider Advisory Committee20 meeting facilitated by JanRain and the OpenID Foundation.  Through the day specific questions by the content provider community (media companies and national affinity groups) were answered about OpenID and a discussion around how it could benefit the participants by supporting OpenID.
  • The OpenID Foundation helped push forward usability and user experience research and best practices, by hosting an OpenID user experience summit led largely by Yahoo! and Google.  The community plans to continue this work throughout 2009, with many individuals and companies participating.
  • Projects aimed squarely at open source developers like the Pinax platform which is built atop Django or the DiSo project atop WordPress and Movable Type integrated OpenID support as a core feature, making it even easier to build new social websites with support for OpenID sign in.  These of course join the likes of Ruby on Rails which already had an OpenID plugin used by sites like 37Signals.
  • The OpenID Provider Authentication Policy Extension was approved as a finalized OpenID specification21.  It enables Relying Parties to request that the Provider employ specified authentication policies such as that the Provider employ a phishing-resistant authentication method.
  • Multiple community driven projects looked at how OpenID usability and security could be improved by integrating OpenID with the web browser.  Coming into 2008, VeriSign had launched their OpenID SeatBelt plugin and Sxip launched Sxipper for FireFox and Flock.  In 2008, not only did VeriSign22 and Vidoop23 add one-click sign in functionality to their OpenID Providers, but Flock, MySpace and Vidoop collaboratively launched a new project called Identity in the Browser24.  I also wrote my thoughts on Getting OpenID Into the Browser, talking about why an identity enabled web browser really should be built.
  • The first annual election of the OpenID Foundation’s community board members was held where one-hundred-and-seventy-five members voted resulting in the election of Brian Kissel, Chris Messina, David Recordon, Eric Sachs, Nat Sakimura, and Snorri Giorgetti25.

Indeed, the launch of Facebook Connect – a completely proprietary identity system for the web – in 2008 underscores the importance of open standards-based technologies like OpenID.  Certainly it provides clear motivation to the entire OpenID community to demonstrate the value of decentralization and interoperability with an additional emphasis on usability, security and consumer friendliness.

While Facebook Connect continues introducing consumers and companies to the idea of shared sign in and profile exchange, forward-looking social networks like MySpace are now building the same functionality atop OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial and other non-proprietary technologies.  To their credit, Facebook continues to participate in an increasing number of meetups and events around OpenID.

Considering all that has been accomplished by the community since OpenID 1.0 first appeared on LiveJournal in 2005, in its short three-year history, OpenID has seen phenomenal adoption by individuals, the open source community, non-profits and companies. 2009 most certainly will see a continuation of that trend, especially as usability, consumer utility and pragmatic solutions become the focus.

  1. Relying Party Stats as of Jan 1st, 2009 []
  2. Why AOL Created 63 Million New OpenIDs []
  3. Google is Now an OpenID Provider []
  4. Windows Live Adds Support For OpenID, Calls It De Facto Login Standard []
  5. mixi Supports OpenID with the Simple Registration Extension []
  6. Yahoo Implements OpenID; Massive Win For The Project []
  7. AOL releases preview support for SREG []
  8. Mixi Brings Sophisticated OpenID to Millions of Japanese Users []
  9. Yahoo! OpenID limited testing for Simple Registration support []
  10. AOL’s MapQuest Integrates OpenID []
  11. Blogger Buzz: OpenID Commenting []
  12. Microsoft’s First Step In Accepting OpenID SignOns – HealthVault []
  13. SourceForge Allows OpenID Logins []
  14. TypePad Connects to Google, AOL, Yahoo! and more []
  15. Barack Obama’s Change.gov Adds OpenID []
  16. Google Friend Connect: now available []
  17. Evolving the Foundation Board []
  18. Supporting OpenID Communities Around the World []
  19. OpenID Japan Launches with 32 Member Companies []
  20. OpenID Content Provider Advisory Committee Kickoff Meeting []
  21. PAPE Approved as an OpenID Specification []
  22. Personal Identity Portal (PIP) – Learn More About PIP []
  23. What is the myVidoop Plugin? []
  24. Vidoop and MySpace Bring OpenID to Flock []
  25. OpenID Board Election Results []