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Google Inc
launched a service to make it easy for publishers to sell digital
versions of newspapers and magazines, undercutting a similar plan
launched by Apple Inc, as both tech titans battle to dominate
smartphones and tablet computers.

Google announced in a blog post
on Wednesday its plan to woo newspapers and magazines, a day after
Apple rolled out a subscription platform for digital media sold through
its iTunes app store.

Google said
its new service, dubbed One Pass, allows publishers to sell content that
consumers can view on websites as well as in specialized apps designed
for smartphones and tablet PCs. Publishers can charge for content in a
variety of ways, including subscriptions, metered access and sales of
single articles.

Google is letting
publishers keep about 90 percent of subscription revenue gained through
One Pass and is passing along some customer data.

"Our
intention is to make no money on it," said Google Chief Executive Eric
Schmidt at an event in Berlin. "We want the publishers to make all the
money."

Google’s service also lets
publishers provide existing print subscribers with free or discounted
access to digital content, Google said.

Newspaper
and magazine publishers are looking to reap revenue from online and
digital editions in the hopes of reviving declining readership and
advertising revenue.

"All of the
sudden the entire news industry is saying we need digital subscription
money and we need it now," said Ken Doctor, a media analyst with Outsell
Research.

Consumers must use the company’s payment system, Google Checkout, in order to use One Pass.

On
Tuesday, Apple introduced a long-awaited subscription plan for
magazines, newspapers, videos, music and books that provide digital
content in specialized apps for iPad and iPhone users.

The
service allows Apple to keep 30 percent of customer payments to any
publisher with a presence in its App Store. Apple also lets consumers
decide how much personal data to supply publishers when they sign up for
subscriptions. Analysts have said Apple’s new plan risks angering
content developers.

"It’s
shortsighted," Forrester analyst James McQuivey wrote in a blog post.
"Apple has given every publisher, producer, and distributor in the
business a reason to actively pursue alternatives to the elegant apps
that Apple had hitherto taught us to depend on."

One
sticking point with publishers on Apple’s subscription plan involves
customer data. Publishers are particularly protective of subscriber data
such as names, addresses and credit cards because it helps them court
advertisers and market new products to existing readers.

Google
said it will share a customer’s name, zip code and email address with
the publishers though consumers have the option not to share that
information, said Google spokeswoman Jeannie Hornung.

"We do not share credit card and payment information," Hornung said.

Google’s
partners include the German-based media company Axel Springer AG and
U.S.-based newspaper companies Media General and Rust Communications.
One Pass is currently available for publishers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Britain and the United States.

(Reporting
by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco and Jennifer Saba in New York;
Additional reporting by Eric Kelsey in Berlin; Editing by Gerald E.
McCormick, Steve Orlofsky and Richard Chang)