The competition to be the best stop for single sign-on technology and an enabler of data portability took another interesting turn today with the launch of Yahoo! Updates, a service that lets people log into participating Web sites with their Yahoo accounts and stream content back to key channels across Yahoo properties, such as Yahoo Mail or My Yahoo (personalized web pages).
At some point, many websites will be faced with a choice. For your users' convenience at sign-on time, do you use Facebook's increasingly popular Facebook Connect technology? Or Google's Friend Connect? Or now Yahoo! Updates? Or do you put a button for all of them in the log-in and comment sections of your site?
It probably depends on the website, because each of these data portability initiatives do different things well. Unfortunately for Yahoo, this product could knock it out of the park from a technology perspective and people might not give it a chance due to the company's ongoing financial and strategic woes.
The technology does sound solid, though. Consider the opinion of Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb, who shared his take on Yahoo Updates this morning. The "user experience is immediately quite usable and full-featured," he wrote "The same type of pop-up window asks users to grant permission to JS-Kit (or any other site using Yahoo! Updates) to access their Yahoo! profile information."
So add Yahoo Updates to the list of options along with Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect.
Facebook enjoys some key advantages over its two rivals. For one, the trove of data contained in a Facebook profile mirrors what a lot of third-party sites look for from users who sign into their sites. Interests, movies, activities, and birth date are perfect examples. It's the type of highly personal information that many people share on Facebook, and don't mind sharing with other sites provided their privacy settings extend throughout — a goal that Facebook platform guys like Dave Morin have told me they are highly focused on achieving.
Google's Friend Connect takes a slightly different approach than Facebook Connect, by saying you should have a variety of sources to use when moving your identity around the Web, including your Gmail or Yahoo e-mail address, or a Twitter profile, for example.
Google makes a compelling argument. If all of all of your friends aren't on Facebook, why rely on that as the sole way to carry your identity?
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