October 30, 2008 |
It looks like Google actually wants to have at least some presence in every possible field of business available online. The recent announcement is Google becoming OpenID provider so that people could sign in to supporting sites with their Gmail accounts. For a while Google will be offering this additional login functionality to a limited number of websites that request to join the testing program but that will obviously change in a while as scalability and testing are quoted as the main reason.
Of course there are tons of people who are disappointed with Google choosing to act as an OpenID provider instead of allowing non-Google users to sign in to Google services with credentials provided by other OpenID providers (be it MyOpenID or Yahoo). But this approach of only serving as OpenID provider is already expected from the internet giants and their willingness to join the game at all is always considered to be good anyway.
But still there is some evilness in this announcement that is already criticized by bloggers. The thing is that when entering this rather crowded market Google chose quite a peculiar approach to OpenID by going its own way instead of using the OpenID standard. The major difference is that while usually OpenID means that your OpenID provider gives your identifier to the sites you are willing to use, in the case with Google’s implementation, Google will also serve as a middleman by authorizing you to use the site first.
Also instead of joining the line of OpenID providers where a user can choose whatever OpenID account he or she will use to log in, Google offers yet another option where application developers will be supposed to add “sign in with Google” as yet another option available. But still the partner sites have already started to join the efforts with Zoho and Plaxo already offering users to log in with Google.
True, there are voices that Google’s solution is even better than OpenID standard itself, especially in the fact that Google does not believe in trying to make users learn to login with some URLs when they always use their emails – and Google lets people log in with their Gmail accounts. I myself agree wholeheartedly that for a mainstream internet user “sign in with Google account” will be easier to understand than “sign in with OpenID” is. But critics still insist that if a solution is better but does not comply with the standards, it still remains incompatible and probably should not even be referred to as OpenID in this case.
Of course there should be some explanation to Google’s approach of offering its very own implementation of OpenID that is significantly different from the standard one. The most obvious explanation for this intriguing approach is that Google is just too hasty to offer something looking like OpenID to users days after Microsoft announced its own intention to serve as an OpenID provider – simply because Google can not afford being late to the party where Microsoft is already present. But my opinion is that Google could hardly come up with a strategic decision like this in a hassle without giving it long multiple hours of intense research. So I think there is a better reason than just not wanting to let Microsoft outrun – and I think the reason is market domination. In this case the market is a standard for unified login.
So no matter how surprised may we be about Google choosing its own implementation for OpenID that actually changes the rules and is not even in line with OpenID standard, I still think it is quite a logical move for Google. Basically when Google enters any new field, the goal for the corporation is not to enter a crowded market as a yet another competitor; instead Google always tries to establish some kind of domination or monopoly.
And quietly ignoring the OpenID standard and offering a replacement of its own may be yet another example of Google trying to build another place it could dominate by simply changing the rules. After all, when you are just a player among other players, it is one thing, but when you are a judge making the rules, you are obviously in a much better position. I am quite sure this game-changing initiative is just a first sign of Google’s intention to build its own standards everywhere it can.