Google woos publishers from Apple with 10% One Pass cut

February 16, 2011, 4:10 PM UTC

As Apple deals with a publisher backlash from its subscription plan offering, Google swooped in today to offer publishers a less expensive alternative that will work on more devices.

Originally leaked last June as ‘NewsPass’ by an Italian newspaper, Google (GOOG) released details on its new One Pass publishing tool today.  The timing is no coincidence as Apple (AAPL) is currently dealing with a publisher backlash over its newly-enforced 30% cut of publisher revenues in its popular App Store.

Google is undercutting Apple and only taking 10% of the revenues across the board, according to a Google spokesperson.

Although additional details are scant, the service portends to give publishers the choice of how they want to publish their work and what they want to charge.   Google lists the following bullet points:

  • New revenue stream
  • Purchase-once, view-anywhere functionality
  • Ability to give access to existing subscribers
  • Lightweight technology implementation
  • Business model flexibility (e.g., subscriptions, day passes, metered access, pay-per-article, multi-issue packages)

From the looks of One Pass, it isn’t fully baked.  Clicking on the “Sign Up” box sends me to a random help page.  Clearly, Google is trying to take advantage of Apple’s moves, but it appears to be moving a little too fast, if the signup function isn’t even working yet. (Hey guys, try using a Google Docs form!)

However, Google already has some big publishers signed up, including Bonnier/Popular Science, Media General, Inc., and Rust Communications/Southeast Missourian.

I like this model much better than Apple’s, which only works in one store on only Apple’s devices.  With Web/HTML5, publications can publish once and their content is instantly available on all platforms, including Apple’s iOS devices.  Publishers also get to keep a much larger portion of their revenues.

The devil, however, will be in the details as we see what kind of product publishers can put out.  HTML5 isn’t as modern a framework for graphic design so it will be interesting to see what kind of visual experience Google can provide.  We’ve already seen beautiful periodicals built for Apple’s iPad and Google is traditionally light on its graphic interface capabilities.

Google also offers to share customer information with publishers (but they say an opt-out exists), something Apple has promised not to do in its App Store.

Google’s introduction, below:

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