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Check-in/Coupon Business Exploding: Groupon Gets Into Digital Music Downloads

Grouponicus Rihanna

Groupon is soaring like a rocket at the moment: Today it opens the Grouponicus Store, with Rihanna's new album as the star offering and social media links a-plenty built in. It's the latest sign that the check-in/coupon digital marketing phenomenon is exploding.

As well as the "variety of unbeatable features that have made Groupon a global phenomenon" the press release states, "LOUD will be available as a $5 digital download in the inaugural holiday store of Groupon, the Grouponicus Store, beginning November 22, 2010." That's a pretty big coup for Groupon, given the big-star status of Rihanna, and the fact that LOUD is running at $9.99 in Apple's iTunes store—the biggest music retailer in the U.S.

The company is calling it a "first of its kind" deal, and while it's definitely a success, it's probably almost as much thanks to the clever marketing that Rihanna's team are using for the new record, which includes "aggressive" social media activity across the usual suspects of Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace.

The Grouponicus store in itself is a sign that Groupon's new business model is affecting the way consumers think about online purchases: It opened for the holiday season at 12:00 EST today, transforming Groupon from a popular shopping deals platform into a deals platform that also has a bona fide online store, ready to compete with the likes of Amazon and now iTunes with this deal with Rihanna. The venture into music is also likely to become a big part of the way Groupon works, if you look at the language of the press release—and it makes sense, given the massive "captive audience" Groupon has among its millions of members around the world, which makes promotion of new MP3 deals easy.

It's also another sign that the phenomena of check-in apps and coupon websites is really taking off. When you remember Gowalla's partnership with Disney, Foursquare's with Pepsi and a string of other big names, and other efforts like the location-based, email-friendly WeReward scheme, you begin to see a whole new industry popping up alongside and in between the existing "traditional" retail models. It's also a sign that Apple really needs to step up its efforts with Ping if it's to transform the faltering social net shopping system into one that is competitive with Groupon, Foursquare, and the others.

To keep up with this news, and more like it, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.