Sub Warfare: Google Offers Publishers Better Terms than Apple


With the tablet computer marketplace heating up and publishers rushing to create digital editions compatible with an array of mobile devices, rival platforms are angling for their business. They promise greater capabilities and more generous revenue-sharing agreements for subscription sales.

Just a day after Apple unveiled its long-awaited subscription sales system for magazine publishers -- which gives the tech company 30% of revenues from subscriptions sold via the Apple app store -- Google is touting its subscription model, using the Android operating system, Google One Pass. It gives the search giant just about 10% of revenues -- terms that are sure to find favor with publishers who are dissatisfied with Apple's more onerous demands.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt described Google One Pass as a wide-ranging, multiplatform content delivery system that allows readers to "access their content on tablets, smartphones and Web sites using a single sign-on with an email and password."



In addition to the revenue split, there are some other important contrasts between Google's plan and Apple's -- especially regarding key points, such as ownership of consumer data.

According to Google, "with Google One Pass, publishers can maintain direct relationships with their customers and give readers access to digital content across Web sites and mobile apps." This is also a major difference from Apple, which has been much more reticent about sharing consumer information with publishers for marketing purposes.

However, this week brought a small concession from Apple on the consumer data issue, as it will now allow publishers to solicit some identifying information from consumers, on a strictly voluntary basis. In another concession, Apple also said it won't take any revenue cut from subscriptions sold by publishers outside the Apple app store -- for example, on their own Web sites.

Google said it has already signed up a number of publishers for One Pass, including Media General and Bonnier, which is selling subs for Popular Science on the new service.

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