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February 03, 2007
Better Get Used to Yahoo ID
I met with Bradley Horowitz of Yahoo last week, and the message that came through loud and clear was how important Yahoo ID is to Yahoo-- especially as the company pushes to create more what it calls "off brand services."
This are services that don't live and breathe within the massive yellow and purple portal. Horowitz is clearly happy with del.icio.us and Flickr and MyBlogLog, all services that have been kept separate.
But if Yahoo wants to make money from its increasing push to create and buy standalone services like this, it needs a way to make sense of their audiences--and sell advertising. Thus the importance of the unified Yahoo ID. And the recent flap among Flickr folks who are unhappy about the requirement that they convert from the Flickr username to a Yahoo username.
This isn't great news for folks who hold their Flickr ID or del.icio.us login precious. But Horowitz made no bones of the importance of the Yahoo ID. And as Yahoo does more development, creating more nimble services through its Brickhouse initiative (the movie-studio like off-site operation they're creating to allow the enterpreneurs they got with their recent acquisitions and employess within Yahoo to do more startup-like development) that sentiment holds.
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Here's a bit more color... My sentiments on the subject of Yahoo ID aren't really captured by the headline "better get used to it."
It's clear personalization and community are becoming increasingly important on the net. Like everyone else, I'm personally experiencing a proliferation of username/password pairs, and profiles across all the services I use on the internet. God forbid I should ever change zipcodes - I'd literally have to amend my profile in dozens, if not hundreds of seperate places.
The concept of social networks and relationships compounds this problem exponentially. If I join a new site for a community of Prius owners, I not only have to register myself - but I've got to pull in all my friends and rebuild my entire network from scratch! Tedious! Painful! And ultimately untenable.
At lunch, I mentioned that taken to a limit this reaches a breaking point. Hundreds of username/password pairs and profiles I can (barely) manage, but not thousands.
So my comments at lunch were of the flavor, "The Yahoo ID is indeed a great way to solve for this." Moreover, we're already "opening up" in terms of allowing others (third-parties) to leverage the reach and convenience of the Yahoo ID. See BBAuth.
Never claimed (nor believe) that the Yahoo ID is the only way though. There are other approaches to solving this problem that while early, are promising including OpenID and Marc Canter's PeopleAggregator. A clever hacker has already married Yahoo ID and OpenID (not with any active endorsement from Yahoo, just using publicly facing functionality like Yahoo's BBAuth facility.) The problem of exporting relationship is even harder and in earlier stages, but people are working on it.
I'm definitely watching the above trends carefully. While none of these have much traction yet, it's entirely possible (I'd say inevitable) that this problem gets solved at an industry level.
Finally, Flickr's choice to deprecate the Old Skool IDs was entirely Flickr's choice. There were no Yahoo overlords that mandated this. Their story is entirely true - it became burdensome and tedious for them to maintain seperate systems across all permutations of Flickr access (web, mobile, api, etc.) and they wanted to spend the energy on higher yield features that'd make more people more happy.
By way of recap - the Yahoo ID is indeed awesome in its reach and coverage. You can expect Yahoo to continue to leverage that phenomenon, and we're increasingly making it possible for third-parties to do so too. That leverage is so compelling, some Yahoo acquisitions (including Flickr) are *choosing* to deprecate antiquated namespaces, as the burden of maintaining them is of diminishing returns. Finally, as much reach as the Yahoo ID has, the internet is (and always will be) muuuuch bigger. ;-) And we (the industry) ultimately need to solve the problem of federated identity. It'll eventually happen, it's just early days. In the meantime, we're focused on providing great apps to our users - and certainly the Yahoo ID is a great ingredient that helps us do that.
Posted by: Bradley Horowitz at February 3, 2007 08:09 PM
Bradley, I appreciate hearing comments that everyone can use.
Posted by: Maker Money at February 4, 2007 09:40 PM
Anyone who's been watching the online videogame world gravitate to profiles (to which marketing can easily target ads) is probably as surprised as I am that Yahoo didn't do this earlier.
And personally, I'd very much like to see Yahoo officially link to OpenID. So I'm glad to read that it's on their radar.
Posted by: csven at February 5, 2007 11:55 AM
A last word...
This (http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/02/05/brilliant-new-startup-useless-account/) is a funnny take on the proliferation of accounts we all struggle with....
Posted by: Bradley Horowitz at February 6, 2007 06:15 AM
Posted by: sheila at February 14, 2007 07:58 AM
my id is m4g1c_angel_andr3w;)
Posted by: Burcus Andrew at April 5, 2007 02:39 PM