Google And Facebook Launches URL Shorteners
Mountain View, California — Google and Facebook are each set to embark into new territory on Monday with the launch of a new URL-shortening service, a tool that modifies a long internet address in to a much shorter string of random characters such as Goo.gl, potentially shaking up the sector and putting pressure on established players such as Bit.ly and TinyURL.com.
Apart from some currently available high-profile shorteners such as TinyURL and Bit.ly, Google’s new URL shortener, goo.gl is not an all-purpose link reducer that users can access by going to a standalone site. The roll-out appears to be targeted at increasing user engagement with services such as Twitter, which relies on short 140-character messages.
Google’s offering unveiled this week is part of a revamped Google’s browser toolbar and its Feedburner RSS service, which is designed to make it easier for users to post comments to various social networks, but the service is not yet available as a stand-alone for “broader consumer use”.
URL shorteners have fairly climbed in popularity over the last 18 months, with an increasing number of web users using services such as TinyURL and bit.ly to condense links so that they can be shared more easily on social networking sites such as Twitter, which imposes a limit on the number of characters that can be contained within a single message.
Google’s shortening service will automatically apply to links that are pasted into the new “share” feature on the Google Toolbar. The share button allows users to instantly post or email comments to services such as Blogger, Delicious, Digg, Facebook, Twitter or Gmail.
Goo.gl is not an independent shortening tool, but Google says “if the service proves useful, we may eventually make it available for a wider audience in the future.” The search giant claims its entrance into the URL shortening market is significant as its service is stable, reliable, fast and will apply the same standard of malicious content detection as Google’s ordinary web searches.
Jenna Wortham of The New York Times has commented on the new Goo.gl service “a direct attack on Bit.ly” — the popular URL shortener developed by Betaworks Studio that has become a standard on sites such as Twitter. However, shortly after Google’s announcement on Monday, Bit.ly revealed that it would begin creating custom URLs for a number of major websites and publishers, including The New York Times (at nyti.ms), The Wall Street Journal, The Onion and even Microsoft’s search engine Bing.
Also, Facebook’s shortener, fb.me, is predominantly designed to encourage users to share information with the wider social web as well as use on mobile device, and it is unclear whether fb.me will be rolled out across the whole platform.
According to some industry analysts, who have warned that the sheer volume of short links that could be generated by Facebook’s and Google’s URL shorteners could “overwhelm” the number of bit.ly links circulating on the internet.
However, Betaworks Studios hopes the “white label” edition of the bit.ly services will challenge to companies and businesses keen to hold-back their online identity, and it may start charging for the feature in future. It remains to be seen whether Google’s continuing dominance of the web at large can extend to the realm of the tiny.