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FreePint Blog Google's One Pass trumps Apple's sub plan

Friday, 18th February 2011 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Penny Crossland


Hot on the heels of Apple’s announcement of its publishers’ subscription plan, as reported by Nancy Davis Kho yesterday, Google launched its rival plan called One Pass – and it looks like Google may have trumped Apple on this one.

Google’s alternative subscription plan for news content on the web looks like a better deal for publishers, not least because Google proposes to take only 10% of revenue as opposed to Apple’s 30%. The other attraction is One Pass’ flexibility: it has a single sign-in platform and allows publishers to determine how much and how subscribers pay. For example, paid-for content providers can issue day passes, can sell individual articles or multiple-issue packages. "Fremium" purchase models are also allowed, enabling publishers to entice users with some information before purchasing premium content.

Although the timing of the One Pass launch was no doubt deliberate, Google has been working on a payment system to help publishers sell their content for quite a while. LiveWire reported on Google’s trial of an integrated micro payment system last summer. At the time, the subscription plan was called News Pass and was being trialled by various European publishers.

According to Google’s blog on the launch, major German publisher Axel Springer has already signed up to the plan, and it’s currently also available in North America, the UK, France, Italy and Spain.

One Pass is essentially an extension of Google’s ongoing efforts to develop relationships with publishers. Since 2009, the search engine has been coming up with plans that allow both users and publishers to benefit from open access. First we had Fast Flip, followed by First Click Free and Living Stories, all documented in LiveWire postings.

However, Google’s One Pass will only assuage publishers’ worries over how to make money via tablet platforms to a certain extent. As paidContent reported yesterday, a round table hosted by the International Newsmedia Marketing Association in London and attended by representatives of major publishing groups, saw “a robust and sometimes intense discussion” of the Apple and Google subscription plans. Under the current payment plans, publishers remain concerned over the lack of direct relationships with their customers and censorship of content.

No doubt, the issue of digital payment plans will be the topic of many debates to come. However, haven’t we come a long way from the days when WSJ editor Robert Thomson famously declared Google an “internet parasite” for aggregating news from the web?


About this item:

Penny Crossland is the owner of CH Business Research, a consultancy specialising in investigative research and market intelligence. Penny conducts research projects for clients from a variety of industry sectors, including financial services, management and security consultancy, FMCG, publishing and retail. Fluent in German, she also translates academic papers and corporate material.

Before establishing her business in 2001, Penny was Research Manager at OC&C Strategy Consultants in London. Penny graduated from Bristol University with a degree in German and Politics and has a Masters degree from London University in contemporary German Literature. She became interested in all aspects of business information through working for an industrial market research company in New York.

Penny can be reached at

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