In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
Bing deals consolidates the offers from scores of daily-deal services.
Microsoft Corp. has launched a feature for its Bing search engine that enables consumers using computers or smartphones to find the best daily deals near shoppers’ locations, or for specific businesses.
Bing says the program, called “Bing deals,” gives consumers access to more than 200,000 offers for daily and local deals, gift certificates and similar discounts all across the United States. Offers include online vouchers from such daily-deal companies as Groupon, LivingSocial and Restaurant.com. “Bing’s mission is to help you cut through the clutter of the Web to make decisions more quickly,” according to a posting on the Bing site from Andy Chu, director of product management.
Microsoft worked with The Dealmap, a company that consolidates local deals and offers them on its own site, to create the service. The Dealmap estimates that 300 unique daily-deal services operate in the United States, according to a spokesman for the company.
Here how the Bing service works for a consumer using a computer: The consumer searches for, say, a specific restaurant, and when the listing appears, a green icon below the restaurant’s name and address signals that the business is offering a deal. Clicking on the icon calls forth the deal. Consumers also can click on links to find reviews, maps, pictures and other information about the business.
The service is beefier for users of iPhones and mobile devices using the Android operating system. A consumer who visits the Bing home page via one of those smartphones will see “deals” on the home page. Clicking on that link brings up all the daily deals in the consumer’s metro area. While on that page, smartphone users also can click the “nearby” link, at the top of the screen, to see what deals are available within a few blocks of the consumer’s current location. Smartphone users also can click the “category” link to finds deals for restaurants, theaters, nightlife, shopping and other product and service areas.
“Once you find the deal you like, you can save it, share it with a friend via e-mail or claim the deal directly with the deal provider,” Chu writes.
Neither Groupon nor LivingSocial provided immediate comment about how the new Bing feature might affect their operations.
The service launches at a time when the fiercely competitive daily deal space—a new service seems to surface every other day, with even the New York Times Co. a recent entrant into this space—appears ripe for consolidation, says Greg Sterling, an analyst and the founder of Sterling Market Intelligence. “There are a range of players now trying to bring lots of deals and coupons together and be aggregators,” he says. “If Bing can deliver a great experience it has a chance to be one of those master deal destinations.”
He says that while the service could help differentiate Bing from Google, he doubts that the deals tool itself will boost Bing’s market share in search. “It could have a more significant impact in mobile,” he adds. “But the implementation needs to be great. “
Late last year, Google reportedly tried to buy Groupon, but Groupon rejected the offer and now appears headed toward an initial public offering. For its part, Google is said to be developing its own daily-deal service called Google Offers. Bing’s aggregation of daily deals into its search results shows Microsoft has elected to take a different path, according to a research note from Colin Sebastian, an analyst who follows e-commerce at Lazard Capital. “While Google is widely believed to be working on a more direct competitor to Groupon, Microsoft is taking a more partner-oriented approach,” he says.