The launch of Google One Pass comes just a day after Apple announced it was introducing a subscription service for content-based apps via its Apple store.
One Pass, unveiled by Google CEO Eric Schmidt Humboldt University in Berlin today, will provide users with a single point of payment for content across a variety of websites.
Like Apple, Google will allow publishers set their own prices and terms, but will only take 10 per cent of revenue, compared with the 30 per cent taken by Apple.
Rumours of a Google micro-payment service have been circulating for some time, with the name originally believed to be Google Newspass.
In a promotional video released today (see below), One Pass is described as "a simple and flexible way for readers to access content from publishers who have decided to charge".
Using a single sign-in, readers who subscribe through One Pass can access the content on tablets, smartphones and websites. The service also helps publishers authenticate existing subscribers so readers do not have to re-subscribe in order to access their content on new devices.
The service's webpage says publishers have control over how users can pay to access content and set their own prices, with a choice of selling subscriptions of any length with auto-renewal, day passes (or other durations), individual articles or multiple-issue packages.
The system also enables metered models, the description adds, so publishers can provide some content or a certain number of visits at no cost, but can charge frequent visitors or those interested in premium content.
"With Google One Pass, publishers can customize how and when they charge for content while experimenting with different models to see what works best for them—offering subscriptions, metered access, "freemium" content or even single articles for sale from their websites or mobile apps," the post on Google's blog says.
The service also lets publishers give existing print subscribers free or discounted access to digital content.
"Our goal is to provide an open and flexible platform that furthers our commitment to support publishers, journalism and access to quality content. Like First Click Free, Fast Flip and Living Stories, this is another initiative developed to enable publishers to promote and distribute digital content."
German publishers Axel Springer AG, Focus Online (Tomorrow Focus) and Stern.de are some of the first Google One Pass partners to be announced, with other publishers already signed up.
The new service is currently available for publishers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US, but Google says it has plans to expand to other countries in the coming months.
Image courtesy of brionv on Flickr.Some rights reserved