Updated: In the market for URL shorteners, it helps to have an “in” with Twitter. Shortening service TinyURL has seen its traffic sink since it was replaced by bit.ly as the default URL shortener on Twitter, and a third service tr.im has flat out given up. On a post on the tri.m blog announcing that the service will shut down, Eric Woodward says, “With bit.ly the Twitter default, and with us having no inside connection to Twitter, tr.im will lose over the long-run no matter how good it may or may not be at this moment, or in the future.” Woodward says he tried to shop around the service but no one was interested — not even for a “token amount of money.”
By contrast, bit.ly was able to raise $2 million in venture funding in late March. A month later, Twitter chose bit.ly as its default shortening service (One possible reason: Both Twitter and bit.ly share a backer in New York City-based tech incubator Betaworks).
Bit.ly has since said it is considering setting up a real-time news service that would track breaking and popular stories — based on the pages getting shortened URLs. The company has also said it is considering charging for more robust data access.
But in his post, Woodward casts doubts on those plans or any revolving around the use of shortening data — saying, “*everyone* has this data, meaning it is basically worthless *by itself* to base a business on (as bit.ly and others are attempting to do).”
Update: John Borthwick, who leads Betaworks, says that while it’s sad to see tr.im go out of business, it’s “silly” to say there is not a business in URL shortening, considering that TinyURL has been in the business since 2001. He adds that tr.im in fact does have exclusive access to some data — including how many people click on a tr.im URL. Borthwick has additional thoughts on the bit.ly blog.
Collateral damage: There’s lots of chatter about how tri.m’s demise is a sign that people should not become too dependent on shortening services, since their closure means all those shortened links will likely no longer work. Tr.im says its links will redirect until at least Dec. 31. In part to sidestep those issues, we recently set up our own custom — and self-supporting — short URL: http://cnt.to