A few weeks back, Portland’s Marshall Kirkpatrick, VP of Content for ReadWriteWeb, found a missive in the OpenID group from Google’s Eric Sachs. The half-composed message appeared to have been posted to the public list by mistake, but it still carried some very interesting tidbits about future OpenID developments with Google.
The most interesting part of that post to me? Sachs recommended using Portland-based JanRain’s RPX solution for OpenID. Today, JanRain and Google revealed the rest of the story.
With recent updates from Google, we are excited to extend our RPX services beyond the consumer web to offer easy sign-in to the millions of businesses, schools, and other organizations using Google Apps For Domains. Google now lets each of its customers enable OpenID provider support for their domain, which then makes it possible for members to sign-in to OpenID enabled websites using an OpenID from their own domain.
Stepping back. If you’re not a regular reader of Silicon Florist, you may be wonder, “What’s OpenID mumbo jumbo you’re spouting?”
Well, OpenID is a technology that allows you to use a single username and password across a variety of Web sites. And it can also carry with it certain information about you. Why is that important? Well, it means instead of having to create a new account, new username, and new password for every single site you visit on the Web, you can use one.
So now that you know about OpenID, why is this JanRain-Google announcement a big deal? Well, first off, it becomes the an incredibly simple way for any company, anywhere to establish an OpenID based on its specific domain. Second, this means that more than 1,000,000 companies will now be OpenID enabled. Third, selfishly, this makes me look like I might have known what I was talking about when I kept calling Portland the “de facto hub for OpenID development.”
But perhaps the most interesting is what this announcement portends for Google services in general. You see, Google—while being a huge OpenID proponent—hasn’t yet figured out how to implement OpenID logins for their most popular offerings like Gmail and Reader—in effect converting your firstname.lastname@example.org account to an OpenID—without completely scrambling those offerings.
Don’t believe me? Listen to Eric Sachs describe the problem on Social Web TV.
However, now that they’ve teamed up with JanRain and are figuring out some OpenID related issues with Google Apps for Domains, it leads me to wonder: Could an OpenID login for Google’s other services be far off?
We’ll just have to wait and see. But something tells me, if OpenID for Google proper is in the works, JanRain will have something to do with it.
(Hat tip Aaron Hockley)