Google Starts 'One Pass' Digital Subscription Service

Features Reuters

Google Inc launched a service to make it easy for publishers to sell digital versions of newspapers and magazines, undercutting a similar plan launched by Apple Inc as both tech titans battle to dominate smartphones and tablet computers.

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Google announced in a blog post on Wednesday its plan to woo newspaper and magazines, a day after Apple rolled out a subscription platform for digital media sold through its iTunes app store.

Google said its new service, dubbed One Pass, allows publishers to sell content that consumers can view on websites as well as in specialized apps designed for smartphones and tablet PCs. Publishers can charge for content in a variety of ways, including subscriptions, metered access and sales of single articles.

Google is letting publishers keep about 90 percent of subscription revenue gained through OnePass, a direct shot at Apple, which lets media companies collect 70 percent of subscription revenue from applications downloaded through iTunes.

Google's service also lets publishers provide existing print subscribers with free or discounted access to digital content, Google said.

Consumers must use the company's payment system, Google Checkout, in order to use One Pass.

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On Tuesday, Apple introduced a long-awaited subscription plan for magazines, newspapers, videos, music and books that provide digital content in specialized apps for iPad and iPhone users.

The service lets consumers decide how much personal data to supply publishers when they sign up for subscriptions. Analysts have said Apple's new plan risks angering content developers.

One sticking point with publishers involving Apple's subscription plan involves customer data. Publishers are particularly protective of subscriber data such as names, addresses and credit cards because it helps them court advertisers and market new products to existing readers.

In its blog post, Google said the service lets publishers set their own prices and terms for their content.

Google said that One Pass is currently available for publishers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Britain and the United States.

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