Watch out Groupon, here comes Google Offers

If you can't buy 'em, beat 'em; Google launches Offers beta

Watch out Groupon -- Google's got coupons, too.

This week, Google launched a beta test of Google Offers, which could go head-to-head with the increasingly popular Groupon service. Google is kicking off its coupon service in the Portland, Ore., area.

Much like Groupon, Google Offers is designed to send people who sign up for the service daily discounts for local restaurants, services and attractions. According to the Google Offers sign-up page, the coupons are for 50% off or more.

Groupon has risen to online fame as a local deal-of-the-day website. Now major Internet players like Google and Facebook are trying to get in on the game.

On Thursday, Google's Chris Messina, dubbed a developer evangelist at the company, tweeted, "Dear PDX friends, Google Offers is now beta in YOUR city. Sign up!" (PDX is the code name for Portland International Airport in Oregon, and it's used to refer to the Portland area in general.)

He later tweeted, "To clarify my earlier Google Offers tweet: what's live is beta sign up -- offers will come later, starting in PDX (then NYC, Bay Area)!"

All of this comes just months after news hit that Groupon had reportedly turned down an offer to be acquired by Google. Last November, word was that Google and Groupon were in advanced acquisition negotiations, and various reports stated that Google was offering as much as $6 billion for the two-year-old Chicago company.

By the first week in December, that deal seemed to have fallen apart.

At the time, industry analysts speculated that Google, with its deep pockets and hefty clout, would either take another run at acquiring Groupon or develop its own Groupon-like service and attempt to eclipse what would then be its competitor.

Also going after Groupon's market is Facebook, which in November announced Facebook Deals -- a feature that enabled local businesses to offer deals to people when they go to their Facebook pages. Facebook added to its Facebook Deals service last month, tweaking it so that it brought the deals directly to the users -- just as Groupon does.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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