Media

Google's One Pass takes on Apple's digital subscriptions

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Google has announced a payment service for online digital subscriptions that hopes to be more publisher-friendly –and cheaper– than the one unveiled by rival Apple on Tuesday.

Dubbed Google One Pass,  the new service will allow online publishers to hawk their digital content on the Web and through mobile apps using Google’s existing payment service, Google Checkout.

Readers would then be able to access that content on a variety of devices using only their Google e-mail address and password.

The pricing is a direct take-on of Apple’s subscription service on iTunes, under which Apple would keep 30 percent of any sale of digital content, like newspapers and magazines, within an iPhone or iPad app — compared to the 10 percent slice of the sale price Google is offering under its service.

When publishers use One Pass, which for now is limited to online newspapers and magazines, Google will also share the customer’s name, ZIP code and e-mail address, unless a user decides to opt out.

With Google One Pass, publishers can then customize how and when they charge for content while experimenting with different models to see what works best for them. This could mean offering subscriptions, metered access, “freemium” content or even single articles for sale from their websites or mobile apps, said Google.

The service also lets publishers give existing print subscribers free or discounted access to digital content.

Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs had earlier said of its new service that it was more interested in bringing in new subscribers, not charging publishers.

“Our philosophy is simple – when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing,” said Jobs on Tuesday. “All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same – or better – offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one click right in the app.”

Google One Pass is currently available for publishers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.