Along with a new invigorated session of the browser wars, 2009 will set the stage for the universal login debate to finally heat up. As a front end developer I’m chomping at the bit for a definitive, easy to use, universal login.
Of all the universal logins OpenID, MySpaceID, Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect have the greatest potential of find themselves on top of the heap. Funny enough, a quick google search for “universal login” brings up no direct links. Most of these universal logins are relatively new being announced early 2009 or late 2008, except for OpedID which has been around since 2005.
Who will win?
In short Facebook Connect.
When I think of a Universal Login I think one username and password that I can use to sign in anywhere. OpenID, Google and Myspace all allow you to use a multiple of different accounts to login to a site using their service. For example, Google Friend Connect allows you to login using your google account, AIM account, Yahoo account, or even OpenID. So what if you are like me and you have one of each of these or rather multiple accounts of each of these. Good luck remembering which account type you used for this site and which of those multiple accounts you chose to login with. And God forbid you realize that your Yahoo accounts can double as OpenID’s, then you might really confuse yourself.
Facebook Connect offers one way to login and that’s your Facebook account. Whether or not you have multiple accounts is your business, but I would be willing to bet most people are less likely to have multiple Facebook accounts.
All other login forms get you logged in and the rest is left up to the developer to figure out in whatever form they see fit.
When it comes to using your selected universal login to also promote your site, Facebook Connect is second to none. Google does offer the ability to share your content with your Google contacts, but I don’t picture Google as ever being a viral social marketing service.
Facebook Connect on the other hand has an ever growing potential to get your content out to the masses. You are given the opportunity to allow your members to post back to their outgoing news feed via status updates. Think about it, 150million users up from just 11million users just 6 months ago, half of which login on a daily basis, with the fastest growing population being 35+(people that actually spend money), and the average user having 100-200 friends. Every time a user enters info on your site they are also advertising for you. Now just make it an opt-out situation, Facebook does it why can’t I, and there’s no stopping you.
I know we’re all worried about Facebook becoming a huge evil empire, but aside from OpenID, these are all evil empires. Myspace is a bastardization unto the web. Google will have its own operating system in a matter of years (you all know its true) and the takeover from Microsoft will be all but complete. And Facebook has this evil arrogance about them. They force new features in opt-out mode only onto their users and the whole internets turns upside down for a few days but ultimately everyone accepts it.
It’s not all roses
Growth comes at a price. It is estimated that for every 1million new users Facebook has to spend 1million on new servers. Pocket change for a company worth billions, but what if their user base doubles over the next year and internet advertising continues to decline during the recession. Facebook will be worth less on paper and will still need to be shelling out the cash. It’s a situation where certain side features might start to get cut, if you catch my drift.
Facebook has a history of just doing things that many of their users oppose, but ultimately cramming it down their throat. Most recently it has been over their Terms of Service where they changed the verbiage to read Facebook owns all your data forever and there is nothing you can do about it. The TOS has been changed back after threat of some legal action. There is a bigger question here. How much longer are users just going to sit back and take it? Probably only until something bigger and better comes along.