Google Launches One Pass to Rival Apple Subscription Service


Google (GOOG), its rivalry with Apple (AAPL) ever growing, opened its own online digital content store -- Google One Pass. "With Google One Pass, publishers can maintain direct relationships with their customers and give readers access to digital content across websites and mobile apps," Google said in a blog. CEO Eric Schmidt released the new service during a presentation at Humboldt University in Berlin.

As part of the service, Google says, "Readers who purchase from a One Pass publisher can access their content on tablets, smart phones and websites using a single sign-on with an email and password. 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" Google One Pass is available for publishers in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

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The launch has already begun speculation about how the Google service will compete with Apple's new subscription service, which it has just made available to all publishers of content-based apps on the App Store. Apple will keep 30% of the revenue from any new subscribers it brings to the publisher via the App Store. Many in the media industry find the Apple cut is excessive. Apple has enough of the wireless application market that it cares little about what publishers think.

But Apple has one critical advantage over Google. The App Store has tremendous traffic from owners of iPhones and iPads. There are over 160 million devices that run on the Apple iOS system. Google does not have a comparable and ready customer base because its Android mobile OS is used by hardware companies over which Google has little control. Google's Apps MarketPlace is smaller in both the number of offerings and downloads than the Apple store.

Google's new project may be more favorable financially to publishers, and may have other benefits for consumers, but the search giant's application "ecosystem" may not be powerful enough to support a robust online subscription service. Apple does not have such a problem.

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