Google Counters Apple's In-App Subscriptions with Cheaper, More Flexible Solution
Google just announced its new content payment system One Pass that will give publishers a very flexible and affordable option for charging their readers for access to their content. With One Pass, publishers can charge readers on the Web and in mobile apps for subscriptions, metered access, day passes, single articles and “freemium” content. Publishers will also be able to offer free online and mobile subscriptions to existing customers. Payments are handled through Google Checkout, which means Google will take a 2 to 3% cut plus $0.30 from all transactions (percentages depend on monthly sales volume).
Yesterday, I criticized Apple for looking very greedy by charging publishers a flat fee of 30% for all subscriptions. Google clearly timed its launch as a reaction to this and offers publishers far more flexibility than Apple’s siloed program.
Google’s announcement today feels somewhat rushed given that the One Pass website isn’t fully functional yet. It was clearly in the making for a long time, though. It’s worth noting that while Apple faced strong opposition against its plan from European publishers, Google managed to garner the support of some of Europe’s largest publishers. Among the launch partners are the German Axel Springer AG and publications like Stern (published by Bertelsman subsidiary Gruner + Jahr) and the Burda/MSN cooperation Focus Online. In addition, Google also confirmed Media General (U.S.), NouvelObs (France), Bonnier’s Popular Science (U.S.), Prisa (Spain) and Rust Communications (U.S. regional publisher) as partners.
Google promises that the new system will be “simple to set up, simple to manage and simple for readers.” For now, though, we have to take Google’s word for this, as the system is not live yet. Interestingly, Google also notes that One Pass will allow users to access their content anywhere with just one login. We assume Google forgot to mention that this does not include iOS apps.
p.s. I can only assume Google gets to use the One Pass name because Continental Airline’s frequent flier program will soon be phased out in favor of United’s Mileage Plus program.