Google reveals ‘One Pass’ payments system for publishers

16 Feb 2011

In a move that rivals Apple’s new subscription model for iOS devices, Google has unveiled its new ‘One Pass’ subscriptions model that allows subscribers to access content they’ve paid for on a variety of devices.

Under the One Pass system, subscribers who have paid for content only need to re-enter their username and password and can access that content on several devices.

Publishers can offer consumers of content various options, such as subscriptions, day passes, metered access, pay-per-article or multi-issue packages.

The Google One Pass model

Google says it intends to take a 10pc cut of sales and will also allow publishers control of subscribers’ personal data.

It is in stark contrast to the hornets’ nest that has broken open with Apple with its subscription model, which aims to take a 30pc cut of content sold and hold onto subscribers’ data.

Google’s One Pass service was announced by outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt at Humboldt University in Berlin today.

The aim is to allow publishers to maintain direct relationships with their customers and give readers access to digital content across websites and mobile apps.

“Readers who purchase from a One Pass publisher can access their content on tablets, smartphones and websites using a single sign-on with an email and password,” said Lee Shirani, director of business product management for Google Commerce.

“Importantly, the service helps publishers authenticate existing subscribers so that readers don’t have to re-subscribe in order to access their content on new devices.

“With Google One Pass, publishers can customise how and when they charge for content while experimenting with different models to see what works best for them – offering subscriptions, metered access, ‘freemium’ content or even single articles for sale from their websites or mobile apps. The service also lets publishers give existing print subscribers free (or discounted) access to digital content. We take care of the rest, including payments technology handled via Google Checkout,” Shirani said.

Shirani said the goal was to provide an open and flexible platform that supports publishers, journalism and access to quality content.

Google One Pass is currently only available for publishers in Spain, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US.

The technology is being used by German publishers Axel Springer AG, Stern and Tomorrow Focus.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years