It really seems like the search giant is incapable of staying out of competition with any of the big players on the web. Today Google rolled out Offers, a new program that will let local merchants offer discounts and compete directly with companies like Living Social and Groupon, which recently rebuffed a massive multi-billion dollar acquisition offer from Google.
If a user is logged into iGoogle, there is no log in process. Just select your location and an email pops up in your inbox. Unlike Groupon, it doesn’t ask a bunch of questions off the bat, maybe because Google has already crafted a fairly detailed profile on me. The initial email also doesn’t contain any offers.
The choices for subscribers so far are limited to Manhattan: uptown, midtown or downtown. “Google really doesn’t have the salesforce in place right now to offer a big variety,” says Vin Vicanti, of deal aggregator Yipit. “And what makes a deal work is the specificity, something that is close by and fits my taste.”
Vicanti says Google does have some advantages it could leverage, such as integration with Gmail and Google Maps. “If you could purchase the deal directly from within the email, and later be able to navigate to it on your phone simply by calling up the email, that could really differentiate Google Offers from competitors.”
But for now, says Vacanti, it seems like the Google Offers group won’t be able to tap those resources. “My sense is that they are in a silo of marketing and sales, cut off from engineering. They are going to need to prove themselves first.” If that is the logic Google is operating on, it’s a shame, because on its own this product is unlikely to have the personality or momentum of its established competitors.
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