In perhaps the most coincidental bit of timing ever, Google has today announced their content subscription and management service for publishers: One Pass. Okay, let’s be honest, it’s not coincidental. Google announced it today because just yesterday, Apple announced their own subscription service within the App Store. And their offering is highly controversial, to say the least.
Google, it appears, is once again taking the anti-Apple approach. In their blog post on the matter, the company makes it very clear that they mean for One Pass to be very publisher-friendly. But is it too publisher-friendly?
Here’s the key nugget that everyone seems to be overlooking:
With Google One Pass, publishers can maintain direct relationships with their customers and give readers access to digital content across websites and mobile apps.
I’ve confirmed that this means that customer information collected by Google will be shared with publishers. What kind of information? Name, zip code, and most importantly, email addresses. Billing information will not be shared, we’re told. Users can choose to opt-out of sharing this information, but they’ll have to explicitly do so. By default, the information is shared.
And as we’ve talked about before, that’s a huge win for publishers who mainly fear these online subscription services because it could mean giving up their all-important rolodex of customer information. You know, the information they use to market stuff to you. With Google’s system, they’ll be able to maintain at least part of that direct relationship.
And that’s important because with Apple’s system, publishers are getting the shaft. The way Apple set it up, user data can be shared with publishers — but only if the users themselves explicitly choose to share it. When you subscribe to a publication, a pop-up appears asking if you’d like to allow the publisher to get your contact information. There are two options: “Allow” and “Don’t Allow”. It’s a simple option that will make sense to customers. But it also means that basically no one is going to share such information. Who in their right mind would?
Well, unless it’s shared for you, that is.
There is no question that Google’s system will be more flexible for publishers. And yes, Google will be keeping only 10 percent of the revenue from sales, as opposed to the 30 percent that Apple is keeping. But from a user perspective, given the data sharing situation, there’s no question that Apple’s system is more favorable.
The next question is if users will have a choice between the two systems, or if publishers will rush to Google given the infinitely better terms for them. Of course, given Google’s record so far selling Android apps compared to Apple selling iOS apps, that may not be so cut and dry either. The race is on.