The crowded world of mobile local offer apps has today sworn in another citizen. O2 Priority Moments, from the Telefonica-owned mobile operator O2 UK, is a location-based mobile advertising service that will offer Groupon-style deals on food, shopping and other services based on a user’s location.
O2’s service — which will only be available to O2 customers — will ping users when they are near a business that has linked up with O2 for a deal.
This new service links up two strands of O2 wider strategy, in branding and in making money out of new “value-added” services.
On one hand, it is an extension of O2’s existing Priority brand, which O2 has been using as a perq for customers, giving them an early window for buying tickets to popular live events (O2 sponsors a number of big concert venues in the UK). On the other, it is also part of the operator’s bigger ambitions to grow its services and revenues in location-based advertising.
O2 Priority Moments comes either in the form of a native app for iPhone or Android devices, or as a mobile app for other platforms.
With today’s launch, O2 has signed up 30 brands to the service already, covering some 3,500 “high street outlets”. They include the cinema chain ODEON, the high-end department store Harvey Nichols, booksellers WH Smith and Italian restaurant chain Zizzi. Within that O2 is claiming more than 40 exclusive offers as of today, that if used in a strategic way can offer savings of up to £105 each month (although you would probably be pounding the pavement and eating out quite a lot in the process).
These kinds of location-based offers are arguably the holy grail of location-aware services and mobile commerce, and as such O2 will be entering a crowded field, with companies like Groupon, Facebook and Foursquare also vying for mobile users’ attention and wallets for the same kind of services.
It may well end up coming down to which service offers the more sought-after deals — who cares for a discount if the pizza joint sucks, right? — and which service integrates the best with whatever else a person is using his phone for. That, really is where services like Facebook and Foursquare, which have established themselves for social interaction in their own right.