Make Me An Offer. Again.

22 04 2011

When you’re as big as Google is, the standard procedure is to buy whatever you want. Sure, you could make it yourself, but why go to all that work when getting out the checkbook requires lifting only a pen?

Such has been the method to all this madness I refer to as the Google Ubiquity Project. Keyhole. Writely. Blogger. Yep, all engulfed and devoured by Google, and repurposed as Google Earth, Google Docs and Google. And let’s not forget YouTube. Still YouTube.

It is a strategy that has worked well for the cash-flush search giant, but sometimes it fails. Like last winter when it sought to purchase Groupon for $6 B-as-in-Billion Dollars. Stop the car…that’s a lot of freakin’ money. What the heck were the Groupon people thinking? Easy Street was but a few pen strokes away.

But Groupon turned them down, and is now headed toward an IPO of its own (which is rumored to be worth about $25 billion). And Google? Well, it does not take well to being denied. In fact, Hell hath no fury like a rich boy spurned. So it is going live with its own coupon service called…cue the snare drums…Google Offers.

Take that, you lousy bunch of ingrates. Chicago snobs. Start-up stand-ups. Why, if you won’t go out with us, we’ll just…we’ll just make you wish you had in the end.

Pardon me while I yawn.

If anything, Google’s insistence on joining the coupon fray is the ultimate compliment, not unlike their many efforts to enter social networking. But all of the latter have failed, and I wonder if there is room on this crowded street for one more coupon vendor. Groupon and arch-enemy Living Social already dominate the genre, and have stirred countless local media companies into selling similar offers to small local businesses. Now Google wants to come in and steal the microphone. After all, they have the money to buy the biggest amps.

But in a marketplace that in just a few months has already become awash in coupon offers, I wonder if Google’s voice can still be heard above the din of too many hawkers. I mean, I can only use so many coupons. Sure, the offers may be compelling. They may introduce me to businesses with which I might never interact. But there is a limit to my willingness to play along, regardless of whether it is Google.

And let’s not forget the fact that the party is already well into its middle hours. The tapas have lost their taste, and the beer seems to be going a little flat. The band has been playing a while, and I wonder if they’re going to run out of songs.

Like the elephant in the living room, though, Google has burst on the scene proclaiming, “We’re here! We’re here!”

Was that another yawn?

Never mind that they are rolling this new service out in a whopping four…count ’em…4 cities. The devil in the details is that for many of these coupon offers to work, they require old-fashioned street pounding, knocking on business doors and selling them on the idea. Aside from Google Street View, Google has no real idea what pavement looks like.

That’s not to say that Google cannot or will not succeed. Their attendance at this party is proof positive they think the format has legs…huge legs. But as Mick Jager and the Stones once sang, you can’t always get what you want. Say that again: You can’t always get what you wa-unt.

Yep, and if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.

I’m going back to bed.

Dr “Party On” Gerlich

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