Back at Builder Techday ... the next speaker, Masashi Sawada from Nifty, was there to provide a little historical context. He has been at Nifty for 10 years, and talked about Nifty's place in the movement from PC Communication networks to the Open Internet.
Openness at Nifty
Much of the talk was about how Nifty's were forced become more open with the explosion in internet use in the late 90s. During that time they moved from proprietary file systems, proprietary mail and messaging. Initially they created bridging systems and gateways to link their existing back ends to the Internet, but soon this became a maintenance nightmare, as more and more systems had to be bridged. These were soon replace with the standards-based systems we now take for granted.
OpenID at Nifty
Initial adoption of OpenId has been tempered with caution. They consider the risk of becoming an OpenID Provider (OP) too high, and have opted to just become a consumer, or Relying Party (RP), with their Aboutme product. This approach contrasts of that of Yahoo, who are opting to be just an OP.
One risk they identified was that as anyone can set up and OpenID provider, anyone could set up multitudes of users and use these to automate comment SPAM and other attacks. To get around this, only OPs on a whitelist maintained by Nifty may be used. As my OpenID provider is not on the list, I cannot sign in .... not so open after all :(, but certainly a valid concern for Relying Parties.
In addition to OpenID, they also support Yahoo ID, Livedoor, Hatena, Jugem and Typekey logins, and they expect to increase the whitelist providers over time.