Apple's digital subscription plan for apps was criticized for being too restrictive and pricey when it was announced earlier this week. What a nice window this provided Google, when one day later the company revealed its own publisher-friendly and inexpensive (by comparison) payment service.  

Google One Pass

Google One Pass provides online publishers with an avenue to sell digital content on the Web and via mobile applications using Google’s existing payment service, Google Checkout. Some highlights include: 

  • 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)

Financially speaking, when publishers use One Pass (which is currently limited to online newspapers and magazines) Google keeps 10 percent of the sale price. 

“The overall goal is to bring publishers a simple way to charge for content they choose to charge for, and for readers to have simple access without any restrictions on which devices they use,” said Jeannie Hornung, a Google spokeswoman.

Google: 1, Apple: ?

Many see this move as a direct hit to Apple's own master plan, including James L. McQuivey of Forrester Research. “This is purely a shot across Apple’s bow at a critical point in time,” he said. “That’s what the industry wants right now, to know there is an alternative to Apple and someone willing to talk about a more reasonable rate.”

Under Apple’s plan, the company will keep 30 percent of any sale of digital content within its App Store, and will own the subscriber information, like names and e-mail addresses.

Then again, McQuivey also noted that One Pass would be of little use to Web publishers until Android becomes a more ubiquitous platform. “No publisher in their right mind would sign up to give away 10 percent of Web-based revenues,” he said.

If anything, the move certainly steps up the competition between Google and Apple in yet another facet of online dominance. If you're feeling gutsy and Google friendly, you can sign up for One Pass here.