Now that Google, Facebook, the New York Times and virtually every other company has launched some form of daily deals/group-buying site, AT&T is joining the fray today as well. According to Bloomberg, AT&T’s Groupon clone is launching in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas-Forth Worth “within the coming weeks.” The service is hosted on AT&T’s YellowPages.com. If you sign up within the next twenty days, you will get a $10 credit towards your first purchase (which makes me think the service is launching somewhere around May 22nd).
It’s hard not to look at AT&T’s site and wonder what it’s going to do that’s different from its competitors. Judging from what’s on the site right now, the answer is: zero. “The deals of the day are about solving everyday needs. Offers that make it easier to take the family out to dinner at that cute new diner. Finally dry-clean your wedding dress. Or get your car detailed after last month’s disastrous coffee run.”
Indeed, none of the recent Groupon clones have improved over the original model or brought any meaningful innovation to this space besides expanding the general concept into new niches (travel, shoes etc.). Facebook’s service is a bit more social (though that really only means it’s easier to share deals on Facebook), Google Offers is about as direct a clone as it could be, but in general, the idea is still the same and the sites often still hold up the pretense that these are “group-buying” sites and not just straight-up deals sites.
It’s hard not to imagine that consumers (and merchants) will soon get tired of this and restrict themselves to two or three general sites (Groupon, LivingSocial and maybe Google’s or Facebook’s offering) and another one or two niche services.