paywall

Tim Bradshaw

Fourteen months ago, to some fanfare, Google launched One Pass – its way to help publishers charge for digital content on the web, mobile and tablets.

Coming just a day after Apple announced plans for a 30 per cent tax on all app subscriptions, Google’s gambit caused quite a stir. With a more generous 10 per cent split and promises to share more subscriber data with publishers, at a time when many were spitting feathers about Apple’s diktat, One Pass was seen as a bold challenge and a tempting proposition from a company many publishers still felt was a parasite.

Yet last week, on a sunny Friday afternoon, Google quietly snuffed One Pass, whose homepage now returns only a 404 error. 

A guest post by Ben Fenton, the FT’s chief media correspondent

The rumour that won’t go away right now is that The Times is soon not going to be behind the same kind of paywall that currently shields it and its very fine writers. If that sounds like a convoluted sentence, it is deliberately so. The situation is opaque and must be approached cautiously. 

Few people outside the New York Times headquarters can have been happier to see the publisher announce its (very) long-awaited model for charging for online news last week than Steve Brill and Gordon Crovitz.

The founder of The American Lawyer and the former head of WSJ.com set out two years ago to persuade publishers around the world that such paid models were feasible, and to provide them with the software to implement them. 

Tim Bradshaw

The time is near for putting to the test Rupert Murdoch’s rhetoric about the value of digital journalism and the evils of Google.

The Times and the Sunday Times will unveil their new (separate) websites to the public “imminently” – perhaps as soon as Tuesday. Within four weeks, the paywall barriers will be raised. All but the homepage will be invisible to those refusing to pay £1 a day – and that includes Google’s spiders.