updated 11:05 am EST, Wed February 16, 2011
Google One Pass subs arrive as Apple clamps down
Google provided a possible out for publishers critical of iTunes subscription rules today by introducing One Pass at a Berlin event today. The subscription system gives readers a single sign-on to get access to digital magazines and newspapers while also deliberately loosening the restrictions on publishers. Unlike on Apple's store, publishers will still have the option of giving away free digital access with print subscriptions or using more varied options like metered access and "freemium" where the content is a mix of both free and paid.
The system uses Google Checkout but will reduce the dependency on a single OS to work, CEO Eric Schmidt said: users will just have to sign in again to get access to the same subscription on another platform. The company is also giving publishers a much larger 90 percent cut and will have access to subscriber information to better target ads.
One Pass is already live in North America and most of Western Europe. Major international and regional publishers such as Axel Springer and Popular Science owner Bonnier have already embraced the format.
While the timing with Apple's new subscription policy lockdown may be unintentional, the news came just as the Android tablet market opened up with the unveilings of the HTC Flyer, LG Optimus Pad and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Most will be focusing on e-books as significant components and could use One Pass as a simple way to court publishers that can't afford to sell periodicals with the mandatory iTunes royalty cut or who are now banned from offering free digital copies for print editions.