Google Swings At Apple, Rolls Out Its Subscription Plan

Google has just announced its own subscription plan for digital content, hot on the heels of Apple’s controversial announcement.

Publishers can use Google’s new service, called “One Pass,” to set a price and duration for digital content. For instance, a newspaper can charge $4 for access to its digital newspaper for a week. 

In return, users can access the newspaper content across the web, on smartphones, or tablets. (While Google doesn’t mention “Android” in its blog post announcing the service, we assume this is where it will work primarily for mobile.)

Google One Pass will be powered by Google’s payment system, Checkout, which has not exactly drawn rave reviews in the past.

Google tells us it will keep 10% of sales, which compares favourably to Apple, which asks for 30% of digital goods.

Yesterday Apple introduced its own subscription billing system for mobile apps. In Apple’s App Store, digital content makers must offer users the chance to buy digital content in the app at the exact same price the digital content is offered elsewhere on the web.

So, if Rhapsody sells a $10 per month subscription for all you can eat music on its website, it has to offer the exact same deal within its iOS app. If the user decides to buy from within the app, Apple will take 30% of the sale.

This has Rhapsody, and others, up in arms. They say they can’t afford to give up 30% of their sales revenue.

Google’s new system doesn’t seem to be as rigid or sweeping.

Reading over the FAQ, Google says it’s focused on “periodicals, such as news and magazines, but is a flexible payment system that can be used for many other types of content.”

It also doesn’t look like Google will force publishers to offer One Pass in their applications, or force them to offer terms on One Pass that are equal to terms on the web.

In fact, One Pass seems like it could just be ignored altogether if a publisher wants. This is quite different from Apple, which should make publishers happy.

Here’s a video from Google on “One Pass.” It’s pretty thin on details, but Google emphasises users can log in with their Google ID and get access to content across a number of devices:

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