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Wednesday, February 16, 2011, 08:25 am PT (11:25 am ET)

Google launches 'One Pass' for publishers as Apple's iOS payments frustrate

Google on Wednesday announced a new Web subscription service for publishers called "One Pass," in which the search giant will keep just 10 percent of revenues in transactions, compared to Apple's 30 percent cut of iOS content.

Google One Pass allows subscribers to access content they've paid for on a variety of devices using a single username and login on a website. It also offers business model flexibility, allowing content providers to offer subscriptions, day passes, metered access, pay-per-article, or multi-issue packages to customers.

"By providing a system for user authentication, payment processing, and administration, Google One Pass lets publishers focus on creating high quality content for their readers," the company said. "Publishers have flexibility over payment models and control over the digital content for which they charge and the content that is free for consumers."

One Pass also allows publishers to grant access to existing subscribers through a coupon-based system. Publishers host their own content, and must add what is referred to as a "small amount of code" to a website. "Development effort is minimal," Google said.

The new service was announced just a day after Apple unveiled its own subscription plan for software on the iOS App Store. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of all sales through the App Store, but publishers can offer access to existing subscribers if they provide their own authentication process inside their iOS application.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Google's One Pass will undercut Apple, and the search company will only keep a 10 percent cut of sales. But Google will also allow publishers control of subscribers' personal data, something Apple has been reluctant to do.



But Apple has also chosen to enforce a rule banning links to external websites that allow customers to purchase content or subscriptions. If a publisher chooses to sell a digital subscription separately outside of an application, the same subscription offer must be made available — at the same price or less — to customers who wish to subscribe from within the application.

Apple's changes have frustrated publishers who believe that the iPad maker's 30 percent cut is too high a share for content. The rules for App Store software have even led to speculation that Apple's subscription plans could lead to antitrust scrutiny from the U.S. government.

Makers of software already on the App Store that does not comply with newly enforced in-app subscription rules, such as the Amazon Kindle e-reader, have until June 30 to comply with the rules, or they could be removed from the App Store.