Google’s nascent merchant discounts platform, Offers, is live in New York and the San Francisco Bay Area – and it has gone mobile. Meanwhile Foursquare and LivingSocial are making deals-based news of their own.
The Mountain View, CA-based search giant has been piloting the initiative in Portland, OR since June 1 and plans to launch Offers soon in Austin, Boston, Denver, Seattle, and Washington D.C.
What’s most striking about Google’s move today lies not in consumers being able to sign up for emailed deals, but the company’s new potential for mobile shoppers looking for a discount. Following in the footsteps of Groupon’s Now! app feature and LivingSocial’s Instant Deals, Android users who tap the Google Shopper 2.0 app will be able to purchase nearby offers based on location.
Google quickly brings potential scale to mobile deals. According to the company’s blog, Android users can download the free Shopper app from Android Market, while those already with the app on their phones will automatically receive an update notice. About 29 million Americans own a smartphone using the Android operating system, according to recent comScore data.
For the Offers launch in New York, there are separate deals for Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown dwellers, while San Francisco and Oakland/East Bay have location-based offers as well. As has been the case in Portland, the discounts generally are positioned as 50 percent off. Google began running ads on its network pushing the new launches last night.
Foursquare also heightened its commitment to mobile deals. The geo-social app has begun syndicating deals from LivingSocial, Gilt City, AT&T Interactive, BuyWithMe, and Zozi. Foursquare users – there are around 10 million now – will be targeted by their check-in histories, time of day, and current location, according to the company’s blog. The effort is now running in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
On Wednesday, LivingSocial’s Instant Deals will be available in San Francisco, after going live in New York and Washington, D.C. in the last two months. Like efforts to get the program off the ground in those cities, Bay Area residents will be offered a bevy of $1 lunch deals tomorrow. The Instant Deals feature allows restaurants and bars to run time-sensitive deals; so a café looking to drive lunch-hour foot traffic can run a special from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., if it wishes. It also geo-targets offers to within a half-mile of a user’s location. In terms of the basics, Groupon’s Now! works much the same, and it appears that Google’s Shopper app will have similar capabilities.
All the recent activity around daily deals could be just the tip of the iceberg. A March report by BIA/Kelsey found the niche will be a $4 billion industry by 2015. In 2010, the researcher found daily deals services captured $873 million. If correct, its projections indicate a 35 percent compound growth rate during the next four years.