The battle for your mobile identity may now have supplanted the living-room wars. This thought comes to mind as I watch the extended buzz around the Windows Phone 7 OS launch. As important as the new operating system is for Microsoft on mobile handsets, it’s equally strategic in its integration of several Microsoft properties: Xbox LIVE, Zune, and even Mediaroom. Microsoft built its success originally on an ecosystem of desktop applications. Now it’s attempting to recreate that omnipresence across a different set of devices, one that moves with you whether you’re in the office, living room, car, or anywhere else.
Identity may be too limiting of a concept here, but it does seem apt given that an ecosystem of integrated services leads to the ability to move among those services with greater ease. The different applications know who you are and (theoretically) deliver services accordingly. Google is possibly the most blatant example of this – your gmail address unlocks your online profile, contacts, Google docs, digital payment service, etc. – but the concept is popping up in a number of different places. Your identity through Comcast, Verizon, or whoever gives (or will give) you access to TV Everywhere services, free Wi-Fi, and more.
Meanwhile, individual apps now let you take your identity with you too. I can access my Snapfish photo albums on the HP Dreamscreen, or my custom Slacker radio stations on my Squeezebox or Android phone. The joy of the cloud.
All of this leads to the point that my digital identity is now mobile. And ultimately convenience is going to lead me to choose a mobile identity that operates multiple applications and services. Folks much smarter than I have been touting the OpenID concept for years, and it makes a lot of sense. But will it win out? Will it really be open? And will it encompass enough of what I use to make it worthwhile? Or will I end up locking myself in to an ecosystem that promises the best services or easiest access at a given time?