Google to rival Apple with digital fee service

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The Independent Tech

Google has offered an olive branch to publishers with the launch of a system allowing them to build paywalls around their digital content. The move is set to bring the group into conflict with Apple.

Eric Schmidt, the search giant's outgoing chief executive, announced Google One Pass at Humboldt University in Berlin yesterday. "Google cares a lot about helping high-quality content thrive online and the future of journalism," the group said.

It had been the focus of ire from publishers over the past two years including News Corporation, who accused the company of piggybacking off their content to make money.

One Pass allows publishers to set their own prices and terms for their digital content. Publishers can experiment with different models for charging for their online content including subscriptions, metered access or even single articles for sale. It has gone live in the UK and the US as well as Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Lee Shirani, the director of business product management for Google Commerce, said: "Our goal is to provide an open and flexible platform that furthers our commitment to support publishers, journalism and access to quality content."

He pointed to other services including First Click Free, Fast Flip and Living Stories as examples of its initiatives "developed to enable publishers to promote and distribute digital content".

They can decide the pricing, and the revenue share with Google will be split 90 per cent in their favour.

This comes a day after Apple announced its subscription model for digital publications, saying it wanted 30 per cent of all subscriptions sold through its platform. The group came under attack from the US music company Rhapsody, which said the fees were "economically untenable".