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Take that, Apple: Google unleashes its own content payment plan, One Pass

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Google announced today the launch of One Pass, a new payment system that allows online and mobile publishers to charge for their digital content.

Using One Pass, publishers can “set their own prices and terms,” says Google on its official company blog. This “open and flexible” policy stands in stark contrast to Apple’s subscription service, announced Tuesday, which some say may violate antitrust laws due to restrictions in the plan placed on publishers by Apple.

According to Google, One Pass enables publishers to easily offer a wide variety of content payment options to their readers, including regular subscriptions, metered access, “freemium” content, or even the sale of individual articles. In addition, readers who’ve made a purchase with One Pass will be able to access that content from any web-enabled device — think tablet, smartphone or PC — using a single set of login credentials.

Google’s release is obviously tailored to set One Pass apart from Apple’s service, which is (as always) far more restrictive than Google’s. According to Apple’s subscription plan, app publishers must pay Apple 30 percent of any revenue earned through subscriptions brought in through the iTunes App Store. To really sink the hook in, Apple also stipulates that publishers must offer customers subscriptions through the App Store if those subscriptions are offered elsewhere.

This 30 percent cut has already ruffled the feathers of music subscription service Rhapsody, which says it may take legal action against Apple for charging such a high percentage, essentially making it impossible for them to do business through iTunes.

One Pass payments will be handled by Google Checkout. And the service is now available to publishers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US.

It’s too soon to say how drastically either the Google or Apple payment systems will affect digital publishers, and the journalism industry in particular. We’ll just have to wait and see who adopts the new systems, and whether customers are willing to pay.

Watch a video about One Pass:

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