Just What the World Needs: Google Introduces Goo.gl URL Shortener

Maybe it started as a joke, "What the world needs is another URL shortening service!" said as though we didn't have enough already. Then, someone at Google heard the joke, took it seriously, committed $$$, and out popped Goo.gl.

Yes, another URL shortener, just what the world needs! Put another way: What won't Google do to a) put its name on something and b) gather more information about users?

For now, Goo.gl works only with Google applications, where it shortens URLs for Google's Feedburner and from the Google browser toolbar. The service cannot be accessed directly by users from a browser.

Entering the goo.gl address calls up the following:

"Google URL Shortener at goo.gl is a service that takes long URLs and squeezes them into fewer characters to make a link that is easier to share, tweet, or email to friends."

Actually, whether the service really is at goo.gl is hard to say, since there is no public user interface--all we see is a Web page that also states the Mom-and-Apple-Pie goals for the service:

"Stability, ensuring that the service has very good uptime; security, protecting users from malware and phishing pages; and speed, fast resolution of short URLs."

The Google Official Blog post that announced the service Monday afternoon offers a tad more detail.

"People share a lot of links online," wrote Googlers Muthu Muthusrinivasan, Ben D'Angelo, and Devin Mullins. "This is particularly true as microblogging services such as Twitter have grown in popularity.

"If you're not familiar with them, URL shorteners basically squeeze a long URL into fewer characters to make it easier to share with others. With character limits in tweets, status updates and other modes of short form publishing, a shorter URL leaves more room to say what's on your mind - and that's why people use them."

The Google URL Shortener immediately competes with services including TinyURL, Bit.ly, and a host of others. Each generates a unique shortened URL, such as http://bit.ly/5jTKbh when I submitted http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/making-urls-shorter-for-google-toolbar.html (the address for the Google blog post) to the bit.ly service for shortening.

When the user clicks on the shortened URL, the shortening server must resolve the URL, match it to the original and longer URL, and then redirect the browser to that site.

I am not aware of any huge problems with the existing shortening services, but letting Google handle URL shortening for some of its customers' needs probably makes sense.

(Google recently got into the public DNS business as well, another necessary Internet service).

So, while the world doesn't need a new URL shortener, we may someday be happy Google started offering one as the need for such services continues to grow. If nothing else, the goo.gl URLs will be a constant reminder of the company gives us goodies.

BTW--If you are wondering about the domain name: GL is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Greenland, that patch of glaciers (and a little soil) up past Canada on the way to Iceland, which is less icy and more green than Greenland. (The .ly in Bit.ly is the ccTLD for Libya).

David Coursey has been writing about technology products and companies for more than 25 years. He tweets as @techinciter and may be contacted via his Web site.

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