Google's Groupon competitor Offers launches in beta

Google on Thursday launched a beta of Google Offers, an online coupon site in the vein of Groupon and LivingSocial. The move had been widely expected since January, when reports first surfaced of the Mountain View, Calif. company's plans.

Like its competitors, the service aims to give users 50 percent off or more from participating local businesses. While the company is officially launching in Portland, Ore. first, the page offers the option to sign up for deals across New York City and San Francisco as well.

"Today we launched a marketing campaign inviting Portlanders to sign up for a test of Google Offers -- to get great deals delivered right to their inboxes," a Google spokesperson said. "Offers is part of an ongoing effort at Google to make new services that give consumers great deals while helping connect businesses with customers in new ways."

Reports indicate that the service is only operational in Portland: although the other locations are listed, those signing up are told that they will begin receiving e-mails from Google Offers once their cities are officially launched.

It is not clear whether or not Google already has businesses participating in the service, although earlier reports indicated the company was reaching out in order to test the platform. Like other competing services, users will be alerted to the deals via e-mail. Other details are hard to come by: for all intents and purposes, this was a silent launch.

Google at one time had attempted to purchase Groupon in a rumored $6 billion transaction. Those talks broke off in December of last year. It was believed that the company decided to remain independent, possibly in order to go public in the future.

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