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Google (s goog) this week expanded its coupon service to mobile just in time for Black Friday, enabling U.S. consumers to access and redeem the discounts via their phones. It’s an effort that could give the space a much-needed shove into the mainstream.
Retailers can now create and upload mobile coupon offers to Google’s Local Business Center; the offers are presented with business listings to users searching Google.com on a handset. The move expands on a 2-year-old service that enables users to access coupons on the Internet and print them out.
Mobile coupons have been around for several years but have failed to gain much traction with consumers. Startups such as Cellfire and txtwire have launched promotions with nationally known retailers, but no campaign has enjoyed the marketing support necessary for large-scale success, and consumer awareness remains limited.
Google’s new offering could change that if enough retailers buy in and present their offers to consumers. While existing startups in the space must ink deals with individual retail partners, Google’s massive list of businesses could boost consumer awareness as users increasingly use their phones to find local retailers. While Google’s effort is unlikely to provide the overnight breakthrough many in the space have long hoped for, it could go a long way toward bringing mobile coupons to the mass market.