Groupon rivals tested

If you can't own them, copy them

Details have emerged of a new Google product similar to popular coupon start-up Groupon.

The search giant reportedly attempted to buy Groupon in November 2010 for $6 billion (£3.8 billion), but was turned down. Google told Mashable: "Google Offers is a new product to help potential customers and clientele find great deals in their area through a daily email."

However, it seems Google Offers and Groupon will also be competing with a Facebook group buying product. Mashable reported today that the social media site is testing "Buy With Friends", which will give users discount on products their friends have already purchased.

Social buying

However, there are some key differences between the three services. So far, Google Offers does not appear to be a group buying scheme, but rather an initiative partnering with local businesses. TechCrunch managed to find some test coupons for almost 42,000 small US businesses, all offering simple discounts. These are currently displayed within Google Maps, due to their local nature; it's unclear whether Offers will be extended to search results.

Perhaps Groupon has more to fear from Facebook's offering, which will harness the power of social media marketing to bypass the Groupon-style email system. According to Mashable, Buy With Friends will require the use of Facebook credits in an in-app shop; both relatively new concepts in the UK. Users will then be able to share their purchases in their News Feed to let their contacts reap the benefits.

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