Google Outbids Apple, Offers Publishers 90% Cut on Tablet Subs

Popular Science Has Already Bought Into Both Subscription Plans

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NEW YORK ( -- While Apple steadfastly clings to its 30% cut of magazine subscriptions sold through its App Store, Google just made a better offer, allowing publishers to keep 90% of their tablet subscription revenue -- and possibly higher.

One day after Apple described what it will and will not do for publishers that want to sell subscriptions to iPad apps, Google today described its competing subscription product for publishers: Google One Pass.

A screen from Google's video introducing One Pass.
A screen from Google's video introducing One Pass.
Publishers using Google's plan will not only be able to authenticate existing subscribers, as Apple said yesterday it would allow, but also own all the customer data on any new subscribers.

Publishers using Apple's plan only get that data if they sell an iPad subscription outside of the App Store or, in the case of subscriptions generated within the App Store, if consumers opt in to share their information with the publisher.

"With Google One Pass, publishers can maintain direct relationships with their customers and give readers access to digital content across websites and mobile apps," the company blog post reads.

As for the revenue agreement, a Google spokesperson said publishers will retain "within the range of 90%" of the subscription price, though the company would not clarify what determines that range. "It varies from publisher to publisher," the spokesperson said.

According to insiders, publishers that do more of the leg work of building out the subscription mechanism, such as hosting the page, will own more of the subscription price. Time Inc., which has been talking to Google about the platform, may retain 100% of its revenue, according to people familiar with the situation, suggesting that Google may see a cut of advertising revenue.

Publishers using Apple's subscription system can keep 100% of the revenue if they sell the iPad subscription on their own and outside of the App Store.

Publishers that have already signed on to Google's One Pass platform include a local news company, Media General, as well as Bonnier's Popular Science, which was the first title to buy into the new Apple iPad subscription service, suggesting it is looking to compare the two business models to see which one is more lucrative.

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