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PayPal, Apple, and Google fight for your subscriptions

February 26, 2011

With Apple set to announce iPad 2 on March 2nd, I think now’s a good time to talk a bit about several recent announcements around online subscription payments.  Specifically, Apple’s new App Store subscription service, Google’s immediate counter with One Pass, and PayPal’s public take on the whole thing.

Apple announced long-requested support for App Store subscriptions on February 15th.  Here’s how Apple describes the capability in their press release:

Subscriptions purchased from within the App Store will be sold using the same App Store billing system that has been used to buy billions of apps and In-App Purchases. Publishers set the price and length of subscription (weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-yearly or yearly). Then with one-click, customers pick the length of subscription and are automatically charged based on their chosen length of commitment (weekly, monthly, etc.). Customers can review and manage all of their subscriptions from their personal account page, including canceling the automatic renewal of a subscription. Apple processes all payments, keeping the same 30 percent share that it does today for other In-App Purchases.

That last bit about 30% has been something of a sticking point for many.  And there have been others.  Many of them boil down to a general feeling that Apple is charging too much while giving publishers too little back.  A major point of contention:  Access to subscriber information for publishers.

Read more about developers’ dislike of the new App Store subscriptions details via O’Reilly Radar and Ars Technica.

Amidst the angst from Apple’s announcement launch, Google went public with their One Pass service.  Google’s one line description of One Pass lays out the key point of their proposition right up front:

Google One Pass is a payment system that enables publishers to set the terms for access to their digital content.

Here’s the high level introductory video from the main One Pass site:

Google is clearly targeting publishers not happy with Apple’s model.  Whereas Apple is seen as dictacting terms from on high, Google emphasizes that their system “enables publishers to set the terms”.

Click here to read the rest of the post on the PayPal X Developer Network, including a look at PayPal’s strategy and why it just might beat Apple and Google at the e-subscriptions game.


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