We’ve written before about the move by some providers to charge for content and suggested that before too long it will become the norm. This week that scenario came another step close with both Apple and Google announcing payment systems for subscription to online content.

Apple was first with a service for newspaper, magazine, music and video purchases through its App Store. Apple plan to take a hefty 30 per cent of the subscription charge, but publishers will be able to set prices and subscription length. The move follows an earlier Apple announcement that from 1 April this year  in-app subscription methods would need to be adopted, to drive traffic into the iTunes store. The aim was to stop publishers selling subscriptions only via their own websites, thus cutting Apple out of the deal. As a concession the new system will allow publishers to sell app subscriptions through their own websites thus bypassing Apple’s 30 per cent stake – however they will also have to offer subscriptions through Apple from within the app for the same price or less.

Following this announcement, Google has launched its own much whispered online payment service for newspaper and magazine content. Google One Pass aims to provide a single point of payment for content across a variety of websites. Publishers will again – like through the Apple system – be able to set their own prices and terms. However, instead of the 30% Apple charge, Google will only take 10 per cent of revenue. Google’s system appears to be the more flexible too with a variety of business models allowed including metered access such as a certain number of visits instead of a specific time period.

So with two payment systems in place, backed by two of the biggest names in the online world, the only barrier to more moving to paid content models simply appears to be consumer attitudes. In a tougher economic world, expect a lot more being done by publishers looking to change those attitudes.

Have you paid for content yet? Is the move to paid content now inevitable?

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