All posts tagged ‘URL shorteners’

File Under: Web Apps, Web Services

Twitter Plans to Launch its Own URL Shortener

SAN FRANCISCO, California — Twitter has announced it will start its own URL shortening service for tweets from its official apps.

Twitter CEO Evan Williams made the announcement Wednesday night at Chirp, the Twitter developer’s conference. It happened casually, during a Q&A session with attendees.

Williams sees the lack of an official Twitter link shortening service as “a problem” that needs to be solved.

When Twitter turns on its URL shortener, it will be the default shortener for the Twitter website, and the official Twitter apps on BlackBerry, the iPhone and Android — yes, there is an Android app in the works, Williams confirmed. The BlackBerry app is finished, and the iPhone app will be released as soon as Twitter completes the acquisition of AteBits it began last week. AteBits makes the super-popular Tweetie for the iPhone, which will be rebranded as Twitter for iPhone.

Twitter must have been planning this for a while, because it purchased Twee.tt (that’s a URL from Trinidad and Tobago) a few days ago, and that will probably become Twitter’s short URL root.

Right now, the Twitter website uses bit.ly to serve short links, and the most popular client apps give people a choice between bit.ly and other sites like tinyURL or J.mp. But bit.ly is the most popular, mostly because it’s the default link shortener for Twitter.

Williams said that the official client apps that are on their way will probably not give people a choice between different shorteners. “If they want to use a different shortener, they can just use a different app.”

The official apps will also serve Promoted Tweets from Twitter’s ad platform.

Bit.ly will likely survive — people are loyal to it now because it offers real-time stats for traffic and retweets on your shortened links. Bit.ly also has a paid service and a platform for creating your own URL shorteners.

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File Under: Web Services

Google Jumps on the URL-Shortening Bandwagon With Goo.gl

Given the rapid proliferation of URL-shortening services of late, it was only a matter of time before Google got into the game.

Now the company has debuted its own URL-shortening service at the new domain goo.gl. (That’s the top-level domain of Greenland, by the way; its awesome coat of arms is at right).

At launch, goo.gl integrates with Google’s FeedBurner publishing tool and Google Toolbar, but the company plans to roll it out as a more full-featured web service later. At least for now, outside apps like Twitter clients won’t be able to access the goo.gl domain to shorten links, which means there’s still a place for Bit.ly and the other services like it. But with Facebook also rumored to be working on a homegrown URL-shortening service, and with Bit.ly now offering a white-label “pro” version of its service that would give any site the ability to run its own custom URL shortener, we suspect the days of dedicated URL shorteners are numbered.

The FeedBurner integration allows FeedBurner customers to automatically send updates from their RSS feeds to Twitter and any other services where limited post lengths dictate the need for shorter URLs.

That’s bad news for a third-party service like Twitterfeed, which has long enabled bloggers to automatically tweet new posts using their RSS feeds. If you’re already using FeedBurner to host and track your site’s RSS feeds, now there’s no need to rely on outside services to post to Twitter. The new FeedBurner option also takes advantage of the Twitter’s OAuth support, so you won’t need to hand over your Twitter username and password to Google.

You can also use the new goo.gl service through the Google Toolbar, which will allow you to post shortened links to any page, much like you would with Bit.ly and other services.

Right now, Bit.ly is the URL shortener favored by Twitter, and is therefore the largest such service. Bit.ly collects massive amounts of data on the billions of clicks that flow through its short URL service every month. Such data mining is extremely valuable for anyone in the businesses of advertising and real-time search, so we can expect Google to be keeping a close eye on every click at goo.gl. The privacy policy for the goo.gl service says, “Google may choose to publicly display aggregate and non-personally identifiable statistics about particular shortened links, such as the number of end user clicks.” If you don’t want Google harvesting this data, then the new service is not for you.

Of course the bigger problems with URL shorteners — link-rot, spam and redirect mishaps to name a few — are still problems regardless of whether the shortener is controlled by Google or anyone else. And for anyone who thinks that Google services have a better chance of being around far into the future, may we remind you that Google Notebook, Google Answers and several other services have disappeared over the years.

As always, if you really want a future-proof URL shortener, your best bet is to build your own using one of the many libraries and apps available for Python, PHP, Ruby and other popular programming languages.

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