Facebook Launches Deals to Compete With Groupon

Facebook's anticipated 'Groupon-killer' offering group-based local coupon deals reportedly launches on Tuesday in five pilot cities in the U.S. including Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco. The service is called Facebook Deals--the old Facebook Deals announced in November appears to be renamed Check-In Deals--and will focus on offering discounts for group activities such as such as 50 percent off movie tickets for four or 75 percent off bowling for six. You will be able to buy local deals using your credit card or Facebook credits, according to The New York Times. You will then print out a voucher that you can take with you to redeem your deal.

The Deal With Deals

Just like anything else on Facebook you will be able to 'Like' or share a particular Facebook Deal through your News Feed. You can also publish a story to your News Feed for your friends to see if you buy a deal. It's not yet clear if Facebook Deals will operate similar to Groupon and Living Social where a deal has to reach a specified number of buyers before the discount goes into effect.

Besides appearing in your News Feed, you will be able to find a link to deals in the left hand navigation column of the Facebook pages for individual local businesses. You will also have access to a comprehensive deals page for your area via a deals link in the left hand navigation column of your Facebook dashboard. If that's not enough deal access for you then you can also sign up for email updates here.

With over 600 million people now using Facebook worldwide, the social network has a large audience that should prove very enticing for businesses looking to attract new customers. And Facebook is making some big claims about its new Deals feature promising it will be better than discounts you find on Groupon or Living Social. "You won't get your legs waxed with friends," Emily White, Facebook's director of local operations, told The Financial Times in March. "You dine out, you go to concerts, you do outdoor activities. We want to make sure those experiences are maximized."

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Facebook isn't the only newcomer to social buying. Google recently launched a public beta of its Offers service in Portland, Oregon (and is already being sued for patent infringement over the new service). Amazon invested $175 million in Living Social in December, and Foursquare in March expanded the deals businesses can offer through the location-based check-in service.

Facebook has partnered with other services offering deals for its expansion of Facebook Deals including OpenTable, PopSugarCity and Zozi.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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