One Sign In to Rule Them All

One Sign In to rule them all, One Sign In to find them,
One Sign In to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

The ultimate aspirations of Google and their vision of their role in the future are not very well comprehended. Google is embarking on some major initiatives that are nothing less than game changers if (and that is a big if) users adopt these services. I believe the under current here that we should keep in mind is that Google believes they can do everything better than everyone thus every market is their market – a slight over exaggeration, but you get the point.

I will leave thorough discussions of Google Checkout, Google Base Store Connector, Google hosted domains and other Google products relevant to ecommerce folks for future posts. Each of these play a role but I believe the emerging hub and ambition is for Google to be the nexus for people using the Internet in a deeper and more meaningful way than just being the home page or search site of preference.

The proliferation of sites requiring sign in is exponential. Think about how many sites you log into everyday either via your browser remembering the password or having to rely on yourself to remember. My last count on a daily basis was 14 different sites. Much has been discussed about Single Sign In – how great it would be, how it could be done, why not to do it. However, the more I think about it, the more Google can move towards becoming the single sign in, the more intrinsic value accrues to them.

Single Sign In could take many forms and we see the early manifestations of this strategy in the concept of “My Account” on Google. Convenience to the user is what Google is betting on, case in point is Google Checkout. Google hasn’t married my account for Gmail, Calendar, Talk and Spreadsheets with my accounts for Analytics and Adwords. That union cannot be far off. Even more interesting is Google’s capture of the users mobile phone number for new Gmail accounts and SMS’ing the confirmation code to verify ownership. With the transportability of mobile phones (I have friends with 206 area codes in Philadelphia and 610 area codes in Seattle) one could argue that the cell phone number will become the new proxy for the Social Security Number thus alleviating privacy concerns. The cell phone number becoming the key to Single Sign In (thus facilitating more mobile usage, yes, page views which = CPMs which = $$$) would be very interesting with far reaching implications.

As customers and users of Google whether you only use GMail or are an Adwords advertiser spending $100k a month, we need to understand that we are not getting something for nothing. We are forfeiting some privacy, some control and ultimately we are each transferring a tiny piece of value that binds us to Google. Google will use that bond to drive their stock price and further their vision.

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This post was written by DEP Ecommerce Consultants