NEW YORK: Google could soon launch a competitor to Groupon, the email-based voucher service it unsuccessfully attempted to buy late last year.
Google Offers will provide targeted discount deals to subscribers in a similar way to Groupon, with users emailed discount deals which they can then choose to participate in or ignore.
Google was reportedly preparing a Groupon acquisition last year which valued the company at around $6bn (€4.4bn, £3.8bn).
But Groupon subsequently announced that it would go public, via a planned IPO which prices the company in the region of $15bn.
In a statement to Mashable - the news source which originally reported the Google Offers plans - the firm said: "Google is communicating with small businesses to enlist their support and participation in a test of a pre-paid offers/vouchers programme.
"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."
Google spokesman Nate Tyler added: "Google is communicating with small businesses to enlist their support and participation in a test of a pre-paid offers/vouchers program."
The voucher service would represent Google's latest attempt to diversify its business away from search, from which the vast majority of its revenues are derived.
One highly successful venture has been its Android operating system, which covered 26% of US smartphone subscribers in November 2010, according to comScore.
This puts Android's US market share ahead of Apple (26%) and behind only RIM (33.5%).
But high-profile services such as Google Buzz and Google Wave - respectively a social networking tool and a collaborative editing tool - have both recently failed to gain traction with users.
Data sourced from Mashable/Associated Press/comScore; additional content by Warc staff