Has OpenID lost its mojo?

* OpenID lost its big bang, spent December embroiled in internal squabbles

Happy New Year to all, and I do hope it's a prosperous one for you. I expect that, in general, computer application vendors won't have a great year but those in the identity sphere - especially those who can automate necessary tasks - might do quite well. Time will tell. As the year ended, though, it appeared that OpenID (for example) was on a losing streak.

December’s announcement of Facebook Connect and, to a lesser extent, Google Friend Connect garnered large amounts of coverage in both the technical and the general press but – more importantly – saw quick and wide acceptance by users. While the story was typically played as a “data portability” thing, it was the single sign-on aspect that most impacted OpenID, because OpenID hasn’t really launched its long talked about data portability specs. This is the “big bang” that OpenID has been looking for, and hasn’t found.

OpenID spent the month of December embroiled in internal squabbles as the OpenID Foundation conducted elections for its board of directors. The results were due on New Year’s Eve – too late for us to note them here (even if there was general interest) so head to the foundation Web site if you care. But the conversations about the election on the OpenID “General” mailing lists (masochists can consult the archives here) shows why this group continues to be the most dysfunctional of all the open source software “families”!

There was good news for the group, though. Identity 2.0 poster boy Dick Hardt, formerly CEO of Sxip, announced that he was moving to Redmond and joining Microsoft. Hardt reassured the open source community that he would maintain his ties to OpenID (he was a co-founder of the foundation, contributed a great deal to the specifications and was a candidate for re-election to the board). You can read it in his own words and decide for yourself who “wins” – Microsoft (definitely), Hardt (assuredly) and/or OpenID (possibly).

OpenID won’t go away, of course. But neither have Arcnet or Token-Ring. That doesn’t mean we still need to talk about them. And there’s not much reason (at this time) to keep talking about OpenID. Information cards (both the Microsoft Cardspace and the Open Source versions such as DigitalME) show much more promise.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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