The slings and arrows are flying fast and furious. On the heels of Apple’s announcement yesterday of a new in-app subscription option for digital publishers, Google has news out today detailing its rival offering, the Google One Pass System. Google’s subscription plan is far kinder to publishers. As Dave noted, Apple takes a 30% cut of revenue, and more importantly, doesn’t allow publishers to link to their own sites for content purchases, or offer prices anywhere that undercut Apple iTunes listings. Google, on the other hand, says One Pass is a payment authentication system that lets publishers sell subscriptions in a more flexible manner. Content owners can price subscriptions however they like, promoting and selling content with a single payment system, from multiple locations, and without restriction. Here’s the little dig at Apple from Google’s description of One Pass on its site.
Google One Pass operates across multiple sites, so you can easily manage content across all of your online properties. It also offers payments in mobile apps, in instances where the mobile OS terms permit transactions to take place outside of the app market.
It occurs to me that the digital publishing field is about to go through its own version of the TV retransmission wars. However, the positions of power may be reversed. In television, the content owners are clamoring for more money from the distributors (cable, telco, and satellite providers). In the new publishing model, Apple – a distributor – is demanding harsh payment terms from the content owners.
Apple may be taking an aggressive stance now because it knows it will have to compromise in the future. The Huffington Post reports that Google’s revenue cut with each transaction – including in-app subscriptions – is 10% or less compared to Apple’s 30% deal. That suggests that Apple may not be able to hold on to its position of power for long. Competition is a mighty force, and in the end, content is always king.