Data portability took a huge step forward today. Yahoo! just joined the OpenID 2.0 framework.
OpenID is an open framework that eliminates the need for multiple usernames across different web sites and applications. Today there are 120 million members and a lot of sites that support it (including Plaxo and many others you may use today.) But the best part is that your OpenID ID will always stay with you-even if you close your account. So if you are a Plaxo user with OpenID and a Yahoo! user with OpenID, you can close your Yahoo! account and use the same OpenID with Plaxo. If Google joined OpenID, you can leave Yahoo! and join Google easily.
Speaking of which, there are rumors that Google, IBM and Verisign will join OpenID shortly. Yahoo has 250 million users and will build momentum to OpenID, enough momentum that Google, IBM and Verisign will find compelling to join. Maybe Microsoft will then make its Passport interoperable with OpenID?
Now OpenID is a very attractive platform. This is the beginning of a fundamental change in the Internet. Our profiles will now be potable. Soon we will have true data portability (meanign the date in my LinkedIn or Facebook account can travel with me when I leave). It will lead to a change in how the social networking sites operate. As I stated two weeks ago, Data portability will force the social networking sites to differentiate themselves based on features and functionality. It will make the web lots of fun, creating a platform for apps.
MySpace and Facebook can compete not on the data it holds but on its API and how many developers it attracts to create third party apps on their platform. I have always said that Web 2.0 is web sites as a platform (Amazon, eBay, Google, Facebook’s APIs) much like MS DOS was a platform. Web 2.5 is the platform with open data portability standards and single sign-on. We have single sign-on in our sights. Next step is full data portability.
UPDATE (Jan 18, 2008)
Google has been testing OpenID since November in its Blogger product line. As of Friday, Blogger users are able to use their blogs URL as an OpenID login! (Blogger users just have to flip the switch on the admin menu.) This will add approximately 20 million more users to OpenID, on top of the 250 million yesterday. If successful, you can suspect that Google will add OpenID to more of its properties.