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Google has chosen Oregon as its initial theatre of operations for its long-awaited response to Groupon.

The search giant's push into the home of the world's biggest fungus comes as Facebook preps its own coupon assault on five US cities.

Ever since Groupon had the temerity to decline a takeover offer from the Chocolate Factory, press and pundits have anticipated a Google knock-off entry into the social group-buying space.

At the moment, Google Offers doesn’t actually offer any actual offers: it’s accepting signups from Portlanders who’ll actually be able to buy stuff at some later date. Google is claiming discounts will reach 50 per cent for products, restaurants and attractions.

And in what looks like a game of tit-for-tat announcements, Facebook is test-launching Facebook Deals in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco.

The New York Times story announcing the launch was originally embargoed, but in an accident noted by Techcrunch it was published ahead of time (then pulled down, then put back up).

Facebook says its deals – which will compete with other “social deals” applications already using Facebook – will be more “tightly integrated” into Facebook. Facebook told the NYT its access to the “communications and activities of networks and friends” will give it the edge over other deals providers.

Deals will also be tied to Facebook Credits, which Facebook hopes can morph from a virtual currency into a real one. ®

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