Two-minute summary: Google One Pass (and Apple)

Feb. 17, 2011 | by Tamsin Hemingray

Google announced their new content subscription service One Pass yesterday. The timing was interesting – it came the day after Apple announced new rules for publishers selling subscriptions on its iOS platform. Essentially, the Google approach looks more attractive to publishers because Google will only take 10% off the top, while Apple will take 30%. And if you’re using the Apple iOS platform for your content then you now have to offer access to users via iTunes – this wasn’t compulsory before.

Commentary is generally running along the lines that Google’s offering is a more open, fairer and more flexible system than Apple’s.

The Guardian sum this attitude up, saying “Google’s One Pass [...] allows more freedom to publishers than Apple’s subscription model. Newspapers including the Financial Times, the Economist and New York Times have said they are presently unclear how Apple’s new model affects their iPhone and iPad charging strategy.”

Rhapsody, who offer a subscription based music service in the US came out with a critical appraisal of Apple’s changes, saying “an Apple-imposed arrangement that requires us to pay 30 percent of our revenue to Apple, in addition to content fees that we pay to the music labels, publishers and artists, is economically untenable” according to a report in Engadget. And PaidContent report that LastFM’s co-founder Richard Jones went much further arguing that: “Apple just f****d over online music subs for the iPhone.”

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple’s action “could draw anti-trust scrutiny according to law professors”.

PaidContent also point out that the Google announcement came alongside news that two US newspaper chains have announced “plans to use One Pass to charge users who access [the] 180,000-plus circulation Richmond Times Dispatch, while midwest newspaper chain Rust Communications will soon charge some users at three of its newspaper sites.” And rumours are growing louder that both the Telegraph and Daily Mail are now seriously exploring subscription models here in the UK and will be charging online users by the end of the year.

Brad McCarthy has done a quick summary of the pros and cons of the two new systems in the Next Web and concludes: “So who wins? [...] From how we’re reading the information available, One Pass is a highly viable alternative to hosting your own system or relying solely on Apple’s greedy cut.”

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