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Both Apple and Google Announce Subscription Packages, Each Take Very Different Approach

Apple have been promising a subscription package for digital publications since the announcement of The Daily, and this week, after several delays, it was finally made official. Then, just a day later, Google stepped into the ring with their own version of a subs service, but with several key differences.

First of all, let’s look at Apple’s service. It doesn’t just apply to magazines, but to newspapers, music, video and eBooks too. App publishers will be able to provide a subscription for anything between a week and a year and set their own cost.  Crucially though, Apple will then take 30% of this amount.

Elsewhere in their press release, Apple clarified a point which recently saw Sony’s Reader app refused admission into the store, saying that “publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app”. Although companies can sell subscriptions on their own website, where they won’t be subject to Apple’s 30%, they must repeat any offers inside the app too, meaning there won’t be any offsetting of price.

The reaction to all this has been strong, with bloggers condemning the move and companies such as music service Rhapsody, saying in no uncertain terms that Apple has done something unspeakable to the online music subscription business. Talk of an antitrust investigation in Europe has already begun.  Others, such as The Daily (obviously) and T3, have both introduced their subscription service already.

Then, in amongst all the controversy, Google launches One Pass, a subscription and paywall service of their own, where users will be able to use their Google accounts to log-in and pay for magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Google though, will only be taking around 10% of the price, which they say is to cover their costs. They won’t be placing restrictions on pricing, they will supply users details to the publishers (unlike Apple), and the service will work on many different devices.

One Pass will also offer the publisher the chance to experiment with different payment options, from ‘metered access’ to freemium-style packages where users must pay to continue. At this early stage, One Pass only supports digital magazines and papers, but in the future could expand to include other services too.

In fact, with Honeycomb set to launch on plenty of devices over the coming months, subscription services will become even more important, so we expect this will happen sooner rather than later.

So, evil corporation Apple battles it out with Google, the people’s friend.  Nothing new there!

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