The rumors swirled today on an announcement (or actually, question) that Google might buy Groupon for an epic $2.5 billion or more. Tweets flickered, Facebook messages lit up email inboxes and I’m sure some other people couldn’t have cared less. And they rightly shouldn’t care. Because when it comes down to the wire, a Groupon acquisition by Google has little to no impact on anyone else.
First, Groupon operates entirely independently as a group-buying dealer. While Groupon competitors – almost all of them – write not only for their own label but as white label for others, Groupon has determined to be and is reliant entirely upon Groupon’s own success. And successful have they been. Regardless of Google buying them, too. Will it matter, if Groupon is bought out? Actually, it’s probably better for “the little guys” – now, at least Groupon won’t buy them out.
Also, there’s been a little chatter about the impact on location based services. One thing to clear up: Groupon has nothing to do with things like Foursquare or Facebook Places. The only longshot comparison is Facebook Deals – which had been a bit of a threat to Groupon, but a Google acquisition means Google can incorporate Google Places with Groupon to fend off Facebook. But this is notably NOT about being a location-based service; but rather offering hyper-local coupons to users while they search for local interests. Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrrl, and even Facebook Places will see no impact.
Google, of course, does happen to be developing quite a competitive stronghold against Apple in the smartphone OS market. Does this mean Groupon will become location based through further development of Google Places to look something like Facebook Deals (but better?) Will Droid users be forced to consume group buying coupons, or hyper-local deals? Sure, it could happen. But it doesn’t matter, because the iPhone still maintains three times more market share than the Android OS. And almost 2/3 of people still run something else on their phone. It just won’t affect many people in the near future, and those who it will affect probably won’t care. They may actually like it.
And then there’s the fact a Google and Groupon merger is still a rumor, albeit an expensive one. If the Google-Groupon merger comes to fruition, will you look forward to any new features? Or will the potential new Google-Groupon really have no impact on us – and we should all move on?