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Google One Pass Challenges Apple's Subs

David Gilbert


Google One Pass Challenges Apple's Subs

"Anything you can do, we can do better"…is a motto which could describe Google’s decision to announce its One Pass subscription system one day after Apple rolled out its in-app subscription service.

Eric Schmidt had just left Mobile World Congress in Barcelona when he turned up in Berlin to announce One Pass, which will allow subscribers a "purchase-once view-anywhere" system of buying content online. One Pass will also allow content providers (magazines, newspapers etc.) more flexible systems of charging for their content, “offering subscriptions, metered access, 'freemium' content or even single articles for sale from their website or mobile apps.” The service also lets publishers give existing print subscribers free (or discounted) access to digital content – so you could buy your print copy of Angler’s Weekly and get free access to some quality images of carp on your tablet.

The subscription system in iOS was initially rolled out on the iPad-only The Daily newspaper, and with the proliferation of Honeycomb-touting tablets at this year’s MWC, demand for newspapers and magazines on these devices will no doubt grow quickly and as such One Pass was necessary to facilitate this. “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. 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,” a statement on Google’s Blog read. The One Pass payment system is facilitated by Google’s Checkout system.

Google is obviously hoping that it will attract publishers and readers for two reasons. The first, as we mentioned, is the flexibility of the subscriptions service while the other is that Google’s commission for using this service is 10 percent compared to Apple taking 30 percent of all subscriptions. This is obviously going to be a major stick for Schmidt and Co to beat Apple with but unless they manage to attract a significant number of publishers to the system, no one will use it.

Google One Pass is currently available for publishers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US with only a limited number signed up already. Google is looking for any other publishers interested in signing up to contact them via its website where customers can also sign up.

Source: Google’s Blog


February 18, 2011, 4:45 pm

I'm failing to see what this offers than couldn't already be done, with even lower commissions, just with a little extra code + one of the open authenticators + Paypal subscriptions. Surely any big publication could easily set it up.

Also Google Checkout is a massive fail for making payments abroad as it doesn't handle currency conversion on it's own. So, when paying for subscriptions in US Dollars, you might get charged extra foreign transaction fees on credit cards and are also not be able to pay for those using UK debit cards.

This is happening now when purchasing from the Android Marketplace, e.g. 69p apps get turned into £1.69 charges.


February 18, 2011, 7:48 pm

I have been hit with tranaction charges using google checkout

Has stopped me buying anything from there as Santander conversion charges as extortionate!


February 18, 2011, 11:53 pm

@Gk.pm I guess Google is trying to make it a bit more convenient for users. Hopefully Google will not make any stupid requirements about publishers not offering the services through external sources at lower prices.

I think it is good to give people the choice. Either make your purchase by pushing this button and your done. Or go to this website fill out some forms and set up and account and save 5-10% on the subscription.

As for the exchange rate thing. I often find that stores take a hefty charge for making a transaction in your local currency (at least when it is a small one like the Danish Krone I am using). I get a much better deal by paying in the store's home currency and then let my bank handle the conversion.


February 19, 2011, 5:34 am

@Jesper the problem is not the exchange rate, it's that transactions in USD are considered to have been made in the US and thus are charged a foreign transaction fee on top the % exchange rate. What you are talking about is a completely different issue. I'm talking about fees of £1 or even over £2 being charged over prices of a few pence!

Many UK debit cards also don't work because of that. These have been a regular complaints in Google's forums as well with no solution in sight. The solution seems to be to buy prepaid credit cards in USD, which is a major nuisance to say the least.

The fact that this has not been on the news only shows how many people really care to pay for any apps on Android Market...

Then again as Google lately only launches products to capture headlines, giving up on them shortly after, I'm not that concerned that any serious publishers will be be changing over to this system.


February 19, 2011, 5:32 pm

@Gk.pm: I was not aware of this issue. But I can see why that would be a major nuisance.

I hope the end result of this little Android Market, Apps Store fight will be, that publishers simply stick with trusty old open internet instead of these weird applications. I know quite a few publishers met in London this week, and I think they would look into the possibilities of making HTML5 based "applications" instead.

This would be platform independent, which would really be the best thing for consumers in my opinion.


February 19, 2011, 6:53 pm

@Gk.pm The fact that this has not been on the news only shows how many people really care to pay for any apps on Android Market...

I use a Halifax credit card and buy lots of apps, if Halifax could charge a conversion fee they would you must be a Barclay's customer or something ;-).


February 20, 2011, 7:39 pm


Yeah I know Halifax and a couple of others don't charge foreign fees on some of their cards, but most do and not only Barclays (but you're right Barclaycard's foreign fees are one of the highest, £1.5 or something like that). I use Nationwide which used to be free but now charges.

Still why should anyone have to change their cards to avoid being ripped off when they just want to buy some apps... Google shows no warning about this!


February 20, 2011, 9:48 pm

@LetsGo, as a Halifax customer who gets stung for these fees on my debit card for, I can't help but see your comment there as being especially facetious. Regardless of whether or not the problem concerns you personally, it still exists and is one that Google could conceivably take care of, which was the point originally made.


February 22, 2011, 4:17 am

woa wtf?! Thanks to all of you for mentioning this, I had no idea about the extra currency charge and indeed just checked and NatWest have charged £1.25 extra for each and every app purchased!

That's absolutely outrageous and I'm never buying a single Android app again until that's sorted! Completely and utterly unnecessary!

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