Friday, June 09, 2006

Passport 2.0?

One of the challenges facing Web 2.0 companies today is the friction due to required signups. You typically provide an email address and a password to create an account, and you get a confirmation email with an activation code. As a visitor to the website, this causes a significant amount of friction, and I looked into how we can eliminate this while ensuring that the website is able to provide features that will not be misused (for email or link spam)

Why do websites require accounts?

To prevent misuse – Visitors without accounts can use the “email this article” feature to spam others. Alternatively, comment spam could be used to boost Pagerank.

2. To keep track of visitors and their information – Websites could also do this with cookies, but users have the ability to delete them.

3. To notify users of “Exciting new features” – This is a proven method of increasing web traffic.

4. To protect private information a user may have entered or other transactional information.

All these, or most of these functions can be accomplished by having one company manage ID’s for multiple websites. Like the Google Account or Microsoft Passport earlier, a OneID would make it easier for web users to get access to a lot of features on a website without the webmaster having to worry about the potential misuse by anonymous users.

Symantec is reported to be exploring this opportunity, and Google may be coming up with an Account authentication proxy. Several blogs, including ZDNet, point to this imminent launch.

The feature will be particularly useful for Google because they can look at what other sites a user visits, and will be able to better train their search algorithms to display to the user what they were looking for without having to visit 10 websites to get this information.

Is this the case of Google copying Microsoft?

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