Google Guns for Groupon

Google is reportedly gunning for Groupon, the deal-of-the-day site and app that has approximately 2 million members and revenues of $50 million per month, and has spawned more than 180 copycats in the U.S. alone. Earlier this year, Yahoo offered Groupon between $1.5 billion and $3 billion, and Google is said to be offering even more. AllThingsD reports that "sources close to the matter" say Google's dangling wallet is stuffed with "well above" $3 billion.

A Google-owned Groupon would fit nicely in the company's robust portfolio of shopping services, which Google has been putting a lot of oomph into lately by going on a shopping spree of its own. In a September report run by Business Insider, it was determined that Google has acquired (or planned to acquire) 26 different companies.

One of those companies was Like.com, a purchase aimed at boosting Google's shopping search capabilities and services like its Products engine. Google has also added offline inventory data to its product search, eliminating the need to call brick and mortar stores to check stock, and strengthened its local product search so you'll never have to part with your smartphone while maxing out your credit cards. And don't forget Boutiques.com, a service that helps you find clothes to suit your personal tastes.

With all these shopping-related buys, it's evident that Google realizes that online shopping -- especially mobile-based -- is the future of retail. Buying Groupon would only add to its retinue, especially when it comes to its latest site, Hotspot.

Hotspot is an add-on to Google Maps on Android that helps you discover places based on user-generated reviews -- essentially an immersive, GPS-based Yelp knockoff. If Google integrated Groupon-like deal-finding into Hotspot -- and offered more than a small handful of bargains per day -- it would quickly reap lucrative business partnerships, up ad revenue, and create a mobile e-commerce experience unlike anything else out there.

But Google will have to act quickly: Microsoft, Amazon, and eBay are also rumored to be chasing Groupon. May the best shopper win!

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