But it's a great deal for Facebook, which, while it enjoys a 200 million-strong following, is always on the hunt for more friends. Opening up to OpenID gives Facebook access to one of the largest populations of social networkers outside of MySpace (whom it shuns) and Twitter (whom it covets) -- and that's Google.
By specifically naming Google, Facebook isn't even hiding its motivation for opening up to OpenID. In a blog posting announcing the move, Facebook developer Luke Shepard wrote:
And a great way for Facebook to harvest the names of those people's friends from their Gmail accounts.
Now, users can register for Facebook using their Gmail accounts. This is a quicker, more streamlined way for new users to register for the site, find their friends, and start exploring.
Shepard also wrote:
All in all, a win-win for Facebook. For Google? Not so much. I don't see people signing up for Gmail accounts from their Facebook pages. Do you?
we've noticed that first-time users who register on the site with OpenID are more likely to become active Facebook users. They get up and running after registering even faster than before, find their friends easily, and quickly engage on the site.
Not everyone agrees -- Marshall Kirkpatrick writes that this is "big news" because Facebook is the first big network that "allows users to log in with OpenID credentials granted to them by other companies' websites." And this is true. But it doesn't change the fact that Facebook will be the one that benefits the most.