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There's a reason Google made a multibillion dollar pitch for Groupon. There's gold in them thar deals, and ever hungry for another advertising/data collating moneymaker, the gang out at Mountain View saw the dollar signs and the projected growth. They made their pitch -- tons of smaller companies dream of being bought up by one of the big boys -- and Groupon batted it away. Wise or no?
Yeah, yeah, that's all fine and good, but what you wanted was half off a footlong with everything, not a lecture on Google economics. Well, okay, then: two social couponing sites walk into the ring and only one can walk out.
The above mentioned Groupon, currently associated with some questionable Super Bowl advertising, is king of the block. Their name is synonymous to many with mobile deals. And that in itself translates into power. Why waste your advertising dollar on some also ran? goes the refrain in what can be a self-sustaining loop.
Try Not To Shoot Your Eye Out on This Tour
Some time and attention went into their app and it shows. Fire this baby up and you're immediately presented with the featured deal for your area along with a tasteful photo, the cost, the percentage of discount, and how many others bought the same deal. It's easy enough for your mom to use, which helps explain its popularity.
Keeping It Healthy in the Cleveburg
Scroll down for Groupon's overly wordy, overly glib ad copy explaining the deal, tap the "Fine Print" tab for more specifics, and tap "Company" to get the address and contact info for the company. You can even let others in on the love by sharing the deal through Facebook, Twitter, or email. Even cooler, Groupon lets you post questions to the business directly and get your answer right in the app.
If you don't like the current special, tap on the Deals button, and check out more in your area. Planning a vacation? Tap the Cities and you get a list of many large and small metropolitan areas in the United States and border Canadian cities.
Going Places? Got It Covered.
Buy a Groupon deal with your credit card through the app, then go redeem it at the business in question. It's that simple. We had no trouble or static from anyone when we showed up with our phone, expecting discounted prices. But a word to the impulsive -- the deals aren't active until 24 hours after they were posted, so don't use Groupon as a short-term planner.
You'd expect that Living Social would abide by the Avis old school "we try harder" method for being in the number two slot. It can't be easy living in that giant G-shaped shadow, so any competitor has to play sharp defense and even sharper offense.
So how do they do? Well... The app is pretty, we'll give it that, but while the Groupon has become easily recognizable, the blotchy pastel blobs of Living Social's icon make it instantly forgettable. It comes in a universal flavor, but the iPad version just adds more space and makes things bigger, so there's no real benefit.
Nice and Simple Is Usually a Good Sign
The app opens up with four buttons: daily deals, escapes, purchases, and settings. Daily deals shows you what the coupon of the day is, plus others in the area, escapes shows off vacation packages and weekend getaways, purchases keeps track of what you've bought, and settings gives you some low-grade control over your account (including Twitter posting).
Beautful Escapes, If You Can Get Away
There's not much there there. Groupon kept it simple too but, at least once you bought something, the app could find the place on a map for you. Living Social did cast a wider net, offering deals in jolly old London, Manchester, Edinburgh, and other cities in Great Britain, but deals were skimpy. Escapes consisted of random packages, so you'll have to be adventurous or lucky when you choose it.
I'm Supposed to Drive 3 Hours to Save $10?
In our city of Cleveland, we weren't too surprised at there only being one deal, then a second 40 minutes away, but the third "local" choice was Detroit. We're not sure about our readers, but we consider 3 hours away to be outside our immediate vicinity. We tried elsewhere, but really, there's only one deal in Chicago? London, capital of the world, rates just one? Compare that with Groupon's full page of Chicago deals and you begin to see what we mean about self-sustaining loops.
We Struggled to Find More Living Social Chicago Offers, While Groupon Made It Easy
If Living Social's got any hopes of staying in this game, the offerings the app dishes up have got to not only get better but more populous. Groupon is eating their (discounted) lunch and without racking up some deals on the board, this app is likely to get deleted, setting up a wholly different kind of perpetuating loop.
Both apps are easy and intuitive, simple to navigate, simple to use, but Groupon just has more of what you wanted the app for in the first place. Groupon also let us sign up for emails reminding us of the daily deals straight from within the app, while with Living Social, we had to visit the website to get this. Without some kind of massive injection of content and a more forceful presence, the competition's looming shadow just might block all their light.