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That’s exactly what Groupon did, though, and it seems the social buying site may live to regret that decision.
The search engine giant made the offer towards the end of last year, but the powers that be at Groupon decided it the best course of action would be to remain independent. Now Google has revealed that it is to launch its own group buying site, meaning it will be going head-to-head with the company it tried to snap up. Operating on the same model to Groupon and other sites such as Groupola, Google Offers will offer deals on services and products from local businesses and will incorporate social networking tools from Twitter and Facebook. Groupon’s owners are unlikely to panic at the news of Google’s entry to their market, after all their firm was named the fastest growing company of all time by Forbes in 2010. However, Google Offers will no doubt give them a lot to think about. As it stands, Groupon is well-established and is by far the most successful social buying site around, but Google will be confident of closing that gap quickly. The firm has been putting a lot of emphasis on local search lately, and this will no doubt pay dividends when it comes to Google Offers. Its status as a high-profile brand and its presence across numerous markets will also be a massive bonus. Indeed, the growing popularity of Android, the firm’s smartphone operating system, could provide Google Offers with hundreds of thousands of users in a very short space of time. According to Gartner 20.5 million Android phones were sold in the third quarter of 2010. If they’d shipped with a Google Offers app preinstalled, that would have been 20.5 million people who had the service at their finger tips. The worst case scenario for Groupon would see them go the same way as Friendster, the early social networking site that rejected a $30 million bid from Google in 2003 before sliding into obscurity. On the other hand, Google’s game plan of using its size and massive resources to expand into and dominate new sectors can’t go unchecked forever.
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