Why Google One Pass may be no real threat to Apple subscriptions

Apple subscriptions

Google's One Pass content subscription service is publisher-friendly, but with Apple App Store subscriptions, consumers are the priority. Image: CC iz4aks/Flickr

Google one-upped Apple Wednesday by announcing its One Pass content subscription service. Google unveiled One Pass one day after Apple announced its subscription service on the Apple App Store. Media companies will pay less to sell subscriptions on One Pass, but Apple subscriptions give customers more control.

Google’s One Pass subscription service

Google’s One Pass is a subscription service that allows consumers access to digital content created by media companies. One Pass markets subscriptions to content viewed with mobile apps on smartphones and tablets such as electronic magazines, newspapers, video and music. Publishers participating in One Pass are free to charge what they will for content and choose to offer content via subscription, metered access, by article or for free. Google is offering One Pass to publishers in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Google touts One Pass by saying it allows publishers to maintain direct relationships with their customers. Plus, Google only wants a 10 percent cut of the proceeds.

Apple’s App Store subscription service

Apple upset the publishing industry Tuesday when it offered the potential subscriptions through Apple App Store but said it will demand a 30 percent cut. Apple also insisted that publishers offer subscriptions within the mobile app at the same price available on the publisher’s website. To the publishing industry, which operates at razor thin profit margins if not losses, Apple’s subscription terms went over like a lead balloon. Apple, with its increasingly popular iPhone and ownership of the tablet market with the iPad, appeared to hold the upper hand for a day. Enter Google, portraying itself as the publisher’s friend with less onerous terms and greater flexibility.

Customer privacy, not publisher money, may determine the winner

As the number of users of the iPhone and iPad grow by the tens of millions, they will likely rely on the Apple App Store, not Google, for content subscriptions. Regardless of Apple’s fees, if publishers want to reach those users, they will pay. Privacy issues are also a factor in the Google/Apple subscription war. The Apple App Store will only share customer contact information with publishers if the customer specifically allows it. Google One Pass shares customer contact information with publishers by default unless the customer explicitly forbids it. Google’s One Pass may favor publishers, but Apple is betting that the customer is always right.




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