Apple and Google go head to head for on-line subscription payments

With exhibitors packing up their stands in Barcelona, this week has seen the launch by Apple and Google of payment services for on-line subscriptions. The two propositions are different, and in this post I’ll unpack the details.

Taking them in turn:

Apple Subscription Payments in Apps Store

Used for the launch of News Corp‘s new online newspaper The Daily, Apple this week launched a new billing system in its Apps Store:

‘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’

However, the sting in the tail is some ancillary requirements:

‘Apple does require that if a publisher chooses to sell a digital subscription separately outside of the app, that same subscription offer must be made available, at the same price or less, to customers who wish to subscribe from within the app. In addition, publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.’

I can see a number of potential avenues of challenge to these ancillary requirements, so will be carefully watching developments.

Google One Pass

There are a few key differences between Google’s new One Pass Service and the Apple offer:

  • Google only takes 10%, as opposed to Apple’s 30%;
  • it is a free-standing payment system, rather than being tied into the Apple Apps Store and ecosystem.  This increases its potential uses. 

There is a very pointed comment in the product description, that reacts directly against the Apple restrictions noted above:

‘It also offers payments in mobile apps, in instances where the mobile OS terms permit transactions to take place outside of the app market.’

Going back to my conceptual model for digital money, these are interesting moves from the online payment providers that increasingly overlap with the mobile ecosystem.


About Rob Bratby

Telecommunications, media and technology lawyer advising companies across Europe and Asia
This entry was posted in Commercial activity, Payment, Services, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Apple and Google go head to head for on-line subscription payments

  1. Pingback: Phonepayplus publishes market trends report and 2011/12 plan | Watching the Connectives

  2. Rob Bratby says:

    As anticipated (‘ancillary restrictions’ reads to competition lawyers a bit like ‘tired and emotional’ in Private Eye), there are reports that anti-trust authorities in both the US and Belgium are both looking at the terms of Apple’s product.

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