Google Introduces Payment System for Digital Content

In Tech Digest by Hannah Johnson

By Hannah Johnson

On Wednesday, Google launched its new online payment system for digital content called One Pass. The system allows publishers to sell their digital content using Google Checkout e-commerce solution, and users can access their purchased content from any device. Google will take 10% of each transaction.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that while One Pass is primarily intended for newspapers and magazines, it is also ideal for other types of digital content — like e-books! For book publishers, the difference between Apple’s 30% and Google’s 10% transaction fee could make all the difference in developing sustainable business models for selling e-books.

The launch of One Pass came just one day after Apple launched its subscription model, which allows in-app subscription purchases in the App Store. Apple takes 30% of each purchase if the user access the app through Apple. Under this model, publishers are not allowed to provide links inside an app that lead to a purchase outside the app — where Apple would not be able to take its 30%.

This new system as several advantages as compared to the terms that Apple sets for its App Store:

  • Google will take a mere 10% of each transaction
  • Publishers can set their own prices
  • Purchased content can be consumed on any device
  • One Pass is available inside Android apps (on smartphones and tablets) and on websites

One Pass is available internationally and is powered by Google Checkout, which means that publishers can use Google’s e-commerce solution instead of building their own. Payment options include subscriptions, day passes, metered access, pay-per-article, and multi-issue packages.

As Google’s mobile platform Android continues to grow — it is now the world’s largest smartphone platform — and with One Pass’s favorable options, more publishers might be enticed to start developing for Android before Apple. The Wall Street Journal quoted Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey as saying that publishers might start using Google One Pass “purely to create competition and to show Apple they aren’t happy with yesterday’s announcement and they will fund any alternative.”

About the Author

Hannah Johnson


Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.