In a highly publicized, failed acquisition bid, Google attempted to buy the local deals and advertising service Groupon late last year. Their offer of $6 billion suggests just how seriously Google takes the local ad/search market and Groupon's proposed $15 billion IPO suggests just how seriously Wall Street takes the market. However, not to be deterred, Google is simply rolling their own local ad/group coupon service. Heading into testing now, Google Offers will either be another Wave or may, perhaps more likely, make Groupon wish they'd sold when they had the chance.
As Mashable reported (via CNN.com), a Google spokesperson has essentially confirm[ed that] Google Offers is real:
"Google is communicating with small businesses to enlist their support and participation in a test of a pre-paid offers/vouchers program. This initiative is part of an ongoing effort at Google to make new products, such as the recent Offer Ads beta, that connect businesses with customers in new ways."
It's easy to imagine a scenario in which the Groupon acquisition would have given Offers a serious jumpstart in terms of technology, experienced sales staff, and business relationships. However, an Apple acquisition would have given Google a leg up in the mobile phone space too (and yes, I know that Google couldn't buy Apple, but my point is valid) but Android is doing just fine without that particular advantage, thank you very much.
Will it take Offers a while to take off once it's out of beta? Probably. The Android comparisons are here as well. It took Android a while to become the dominant smartphone OS and there were (and continue to be) occasional missteps in that space. However, just as Android has reached a critical mass where a Verizon iPhone will be temporarily disruptive but hardly disastrous, Google's ubiquity in search and mapping mean that Groupon and the many clones that have emerged will most likely be feeling some very serious competitive pressure from the search behemoth before long.