Google plots its own subscription plan for publishers, jabs at Apple

Google plots its own subscription plan for publishers, jabs at Apple

Summary: The timing of this move is almost comical. It's as if Google was waiting for Apple to detail its in-app purchase plan for subscriptions, let the backlash ensue and then swoop in to let publishers know there are alternatives.

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In a not-so-shocking coincidence, Google announced its own subscription plan for publishers that allows content owners to set prices, terms and keep their relationships with customers.

The details of the plan were revealed in a blog post. Eric Schmidt highlighted Google One Pass in Germany. The timing of this move is almost comical. It's as if Google was waiting for Apple to detail its in-app purchase plan for subscriptions, let the backlash ensue and then swoop in to let publishers know there are alternatives.

Google's FAQ even addresses the question of why the search giant is launching Google One Pass. The answer: "Google cares a lot about helping high quality content thrive online and about the future of journalism." Google should have said: "We have an opportunity to potentially kick Apple's apps so we need your help."

I argued that a few big app players could get together and do an App Store work stoppage. That scenario is unlikely, but it's clear Apple and Google are battling for the publisher partnerships. Today, the iPad is the only tablet that's a viable outlet for publishers. In a few months, Apple won't have the field to itself as Android tablets hit the market en masse.

Google says its One Pass effort allows publishers to experiment with how they charge for content. The other key point: Google will let publishers give existing print subscribers free or discounted access to digital content. Google will handle these micropayments via Google Checkout.

As noted by the Nieman Journalism Lab, Google is offering flexibility. Remember that Google doesn't need a 30 percent cut because it banks the advertising. The Financial Times, however, says Google will take a 10 percent cut of subscription revenue. That tax is much more reasonable. If you sell a subscription for $15 via Google you get $13.50. Apple will give you $10.50.

The rub here is that Apple has credit cards for its 160 million user accounts. Google doesn't have those credit cards attached.

Bottom line: Publishers are still stuck in the middle of a giant app distribution pissing match, but at least Google and Apple are competing.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Banking, Google, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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47 comments
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  • Are Android users willing to pay for content?

    All you have to do is look at the rounding error that is the revenue generated by the Android Market place to question if Android users are even willing to pay for content.

    So do you pay up front or continue paying on the back-end in loss of advertising dollars?

    Sounds like publishers are caught between a rock and a hard spot. Almost a loose-loose.

    Then the other question is. Which is most customer centric?
    Bruizer
    • You mean lose-lose not, loose-loose. (NT)

      .
      BubbaJones_
      • But mie PeeCee said it was spilled wright;-)

        @RicD_
        Bruizer
      • That was good, I like it. :-)

        @Bruizer
        Not picking on you. Loose for lose is a common mistake. Spell checkers will not pick up word usage only spelling. Here is another common mistake, compliment rather than complement. English is a strange language huh.

        Cordially,
        RicD
        BubbaJones_
    • RE: Google plots its own subscription plan for publishers, jabs at Apple

      @Bruizer I'll pay for content if the same thing doesn't exist (legally) for free. Same thing with Apps. If someone does something just as good for free, there's no reason not to get the free one. What you're saying is us android people are frugal and will actually shop around... Thanks for the complement.
      snoop0x7b
  • RE: Google plots its own subscription plan for publishers, jabs at Apple

    Anyway you slice it, Google is going to eat Apple's lunch, right in front of them on this issue. As soon as there is (this year) 5-6 competing tablets all running Android and more users running them than ipads, who is a publisher going to chose? Pay 30% and have less user base or pay 10% and have 5 times the user base? Like it or not fanboys, the tsunami that is android powered tablets is coming.
    cybr2th1
    • It's not the number of tablets, it's how to monetize

      @cybr2th@... There are already way more Android devices than iPhones (but not iOS devices) yet they haven't made a dent in app downloads or sales. The reason developers and content providers/publishers are salivating over iOS is all those iTunes accounts with an easy payment method attached. Not to mention that those account holders are members of a demographic who've already proven they're ready to spend money.
      matthew_maurice
      • I agree. I just read an article in which

        @matthew_maurice <br>Google's a bit upset at the slow useage of their app store, while Apple recorded their 10 billionth download (or something to that effect)<br>I think that there is a difference in end users, and no matter what the publishers do, they're not going to change the amount of people downloading, or entice them to buy more apps.
        AllKnowingAllSeeing
    • i remember the time...

      @cybr2th@...
      ... when the tsunami of "plays of sure" powered ipod killers were coming and didn't kill anything but themselves after everyone realized that not only apple offers the best product but even at better prices. oops.
      banned from zdnet
      • RE: Google plots its own subscription plan for publishers, jabs at Apple

        @banned from zdnet

        yea thats what everyone who thought android was going to fail said. "Oh don't worry android won't effect apple devices it's not going to last!" The fact of the matter is it did and not with Apple being greedy @$$holes, devs are going to look for a better alternative.
        KBot
      • sure. whatever. yup.

        ???
        AllKnowingAllSeeing
      • RE: Google plots its own subscription plan for publishers, jabs at Apple

        @KBot

        You will soon realize that the Tablet market is more inline with the iPod market, not the smart phone market (despite running the same mobile OS).

        And apparently Android did not affect the iPhone enough to stop it from breaking sales record on Verizon.
        dave95.
      • RE: Google plots its own subscription plan for publishers, jabs at Apple

        @dave95
        "apparently Android did not affect the iPhone enough to stop it from breaking sales record on Verizon"

        Citation, please...
        NetAdmin1178
      • @NetAdmin1178

        Source:
        http://news.vzw.com/news/2011/02/pr2011-02-04.html

        <i>?In just our first two hours, we had already sold more phones than any first day launch in our history. And, when you consider these initial orders were placed between the hours of 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., it is an incredible success story. It is gratifying to know that our customers responded so enthusiastically to this exclusive offer ? designed to reward them for their loyalty.</i>

        Previous record was 200,000. They matched that in 2 hours and kept selling at, or above that rate (many complained of slow servers in the 6:00am to 10:00am EST time period), for 15 more hours.
        Bruizer
    • You know what?

      @cybr2th@...

      If Google can deliver the publishers a greater revenue stream than Apple can, then Google deserves the spoils.
      oncall
      • RE: Google plots its own subscription plan for publishers, jabs at Apple

        @oncall I think most publishers of Google business model. They don't enhance the value of content creators, they are trying to commoditize content and push an ad based revenue model onto everyone. I have a loathing for ads, I'd rather pay for content without ads but I realise not everyone agrees and prefer free+ads. Either way, once content is commoditized the publishers end up the losers and Google ends up the winners. The publishers get to eat the scraps that fall off Googles table.
        global.philosopher
      • True enough

        @global.philosopher

        And the book publishers have been whining "It's the price not the cut that we worry about" so yeah I really don't worry about them at all. They can set their book/music prices at whatever they think the market will bear. Apple will take its 30% cut, the app vendor will take its cut, and the publishers will be happy with what's left because they at least got to "set the price".
        oncall
    • All you have to do is look a the disaster that is the Market Place.

      @cybr2th@...

      To see how false that statement is. Average revenu per App is over 1000% higher on iOS compared to Android. Even with 2X the number apps (and a much smaller user base if you listen to the Android fools).

      iOS is still outselling Android by a wide margin. Yet alone comparing the installed base. We got an update on Android yesterday. Still 300,000/day. iOS last quater was 370,000+/day. Add to that an extra year of market and the installed base of Android does not currently even come close to the iOS eco-system. NOTE: I do not count OMS and Tapas because while they are based on Android, they do not run in the Android eco-system. Software written to OMS will not necessarily run on Google's Android and visa-versa.

      So the question really is. Given the same user base size, would you rather have 2% willing to pay for content and make 70% of the revenues or have .1% willing to pay for content but make 90% of the revenues?

      What will the blind Android fanboies say?

      BTW: Both systems are going to do very well and saying things like "eat Apple's lunch" just shows a naive view of the market.
      Bruizer
      • RE: Google plots its own subscription plan for publishers, jabs at Apple

        @Bruizer

        Look the statement you say is irelevant. The fact of the matter is if someone wants to pay for a service they will, otherwise they won't. Apple or Android is irelevant in that respect. And looking at the big apps like Netflix hulu or Kindle, the only reason one would download these apps is to use their services, therefore you are going to pay for them. The issue here is should these marketplaces have the right to charge for content that isn't theirs. It's not like the entire netflix hulu or kindle libraries are stored on Apple's servers like, say, additional game content for an app would be; this stuff is off site and has nothing to do with apple besides the fact that the developer wanted to have its customers with iOS devices able to use its service on them.
        KBot
      • You are correct

        @Bruizer

        Installed base is irrelevant. The ONLY thing that matters here is revenue streams. Even if Android outnumbered iOS 100 to 1 if more "total money" was being made from iOS purchases then that is where the publishers will go. This whole "percentage" game is a sideshow that means nothing to the consumer.
        oncall