Google announced a new subscription payment service called One Pass. Google One Pass is toting itself as a “purchase-once, view-anywhere” service, enabling users to view subscription based e-content on any device without having to give up a sizable cut of revenue. One Pass will allow publishers to set their price and terms for their digital content and manage direct relationships with customers. Google will also be permitting publishers’ access to the names and email addresses of their customers, essentially becoming a true middle man payment service, as opposed to Apple’s plan which looks at consumers as Apple customers, not the publishers’.
The move highlights the continued competition between Apple and Google as they are trying to position themselves with publishers and developers. Apple roiled the waters when it announced a subscription model for publishers that forces them to use Apple’s in-app purchase system for iOS devices and give Apple 30 percent of all subscription revenue while limiting their ability to offer web-based payments. The decision was pitched as a way to help drive more consumers downloads but it has angered some companies including Rhapsody, which called Apple’s subscription scheme “untenable.”
Google’s offer seems aimed at capitalizing on discontent with Apple’s latest move. It offers payment through Google Checkout and back-end management services but appears to be more flexible for publishers:
Publishers have control over how users can pay to access content and set their own prices. They can sell subscriptions of any length with auto-renewal, day passes (or other durations), individual articles or multiple-issue packages. Google One Pass also enables metered models, where a publisher can provide some content or a certain number of visits for free, but can charge frequent visitors or those interested in premium content based on the business model that the publisher prefers. It also allows publishers to grant access to existing subscribers through a coupon-based system — so it is easy to give full online access to current customers. Publishers can give their customers codes verifying their subscription status, or can seamlessly offer content to existing subscribers via solutions enabled by Google One Pass.
Google has been working on this for some time, but the timing is helpful in providing an alternative to Apple’s subscription model. Native apps are still the way to go for many developers but Apple’s power play is opening up opportunities for content owners to explore their options. Now, it’s a matter of seeing which way they go. Apple’s App Store is still arguably the best place to make money in the mobile ecosystem, but it’s not the only game in town, something Google highlighted today.