Following Apple’s launch of its subscription service for content app publishers, Google also announced its own version of the subscription service calling it, Google One Pass. Google has extended it beyond apps and lets publishers sell content in apps and outside them, taking care of user authentication and processing payments (via Google Checkout) on their behalf in lieu of a 10 percent cut, 20 percent less than what Apple charges publishers. Unlike Apple, Google said that it would let publishers control prices and will give them access to consumer data. Making the launch announcement in Berlin, Google CEO Eric Schimdt said, “The publisher is the merchant of record. We don’t prevent you from knowing, if you’re a publisher, who your customers are, like some other people,” reports The Wall Street Journal. He added that the 10% fee that Google charges roughly covers their costs.

The service is available in France, Germany, Spain, the UK, and the US and Canada, and Google has signed up German publishers Axel Springer AG, Focus Online (Tomorrow Focus) and, in addition to Media General, NouvelObs, Bonnier’s Popular Science, Prisa and Rust Communications. However, publishers in any country where Google Checkout is available can implement Google One Pass: remember that Google Checkout is still not available in India though Indians can buy apps through Check Out on the Android Market (although Indian developers can’t sell apps).

Google mentions that the service is mainly intended for periodicals, such as news and magazines, but is a flexible payment system that can be used for many other types of content.

A few things:

– Compared to Apple’s service, Google One Pass is more affordable to publishers at 10%. As MondayNote rightly pointed out, the cost of creating content is very high for publishers, and in that context, the 30% fee (effectively the distribution fee) that Apple is charging appears to be unreasonable. However, recent trends show that Apple users are more likely to pay for content, so publishers can’t ignore them.

– Google One Pass allows publishers to sell subscriptions not just inside mobile apps as well as the Mobile Web, while Apple does not allow apps to use any other subscription service barring its own. It is also not just restricted to Android devices(Apple’s service is limited to iOS devices), so publishers seeking to leverage multiple mediums can use One Pass.

– Big publishers will like to keep their subscription prices same on both platforms (Apple has demanded similar or better terms for itself), so for users this won’t change much.