OpenID adoption has been lopsided. Getting sites to offer OpenIDs has been relatively popular. Google, Yahoo!, MySpace, and countless others provide OpenID addresses for their users. Even AOL users have an OpenID. Far less popular? Allowing users to access their accounts on those services with an OpenID.
But JanRain is hoping to change that with the release of RPX, a new subscription-based service that simplifies implementing OpenID. RPX promises to result in more OpenID login opportunities on the Web - and a revenue stream for JanRain.
JanRain has been involved in OpenID development since 2005. During that time, it has received a wealth feedback on OpenID implementations.
Earlier this year, that feedback motivated JanRain to simplify the usability of OpenID logins for users. Now, they're turning that same "ease of use" attention to the sites that want to implement OpenID. The result of that effort? RPX, which provides plug-and-play OpenID logins for any site, delivered via a software as a service (SaaS) model.
"We've heard loud and clear that companies want to simplify the registration and sign-in process," said Tore Steen, VP of Business Development at JanRain. "They definitely see the value of accepting OpenIDs, but there hasn't been a clear path for adopting OpenID and other open authentication standards. With RPX, JanRain is providing that path with a simple SaaS implementation."
If your website can make HTTPS calls and can parse either XML or JSON, then it can use RPX. You can get RPX up and running in under a day.
For JanRain's customers, RPX carries the benefits of lowering implementation and maintenance costs. Companies gain access to the technology they want while the onus of staying up-to-date on the latest code changes and dealing with other maintenance issues resides with JanRain.
For JanRain, however, the product solves a completely different issue: producing revenue. Offering OpenID services as SaaS, JanRain gains the ability to charge customers a subscription fee based on the number of OpenID logins in play. If the service takes off, so could JanRain.
To date, lack of use cases and general confusion about OpenID implementation techniques have been effective deterrents to more widespread OpenID adoption. It will be interesting to see if the introduction of JanRain's solution - combining ease-of-use with a subscription model that companies understand - breaks that logjam.