Today, Nambu, the company behind tr.im URL shortening service, announced that they are shutting down tr.im because it is not economically feasible for them.
did well for what it was, but, alas, it was not enough. We simply
cannot find a way to justify continuing to work on it, or pay its
network costs, which are not inconsequential. tr.im pushes (as I write
this) a lot of redirects and URL creations per day, and this required
significant development investment and server expansion to accommodate.
appears they tried to sell the service but no one was willing to buy it
even for a token sum because it is not monetizable. Neither they could
collect a subscription fee for using URL shortening services nor they
could monetize the huge amounts of data they collect because that data
is available everywhere. They ultimately decided to shut it down but it
left many users of tr.im fuming because all the links they have shared
in Twitter as well as elsewhere in the web gets broken making them
worthless. This episode exposes the tragedy of URL shortening services
and how there is very little chance to monetize the service with so
many players in the market.
Bit.ly is another URL shortening
service which has 3 million unique monthly visitors and with a $2 M
Series A funding. Recently, Twitter ditched tinyURL.com and selected
bit.ly for their URL shortening needs. This close partnership has been
cited by tr.im as one of the reasons for their demise. Even though
Twitter and bit.ly are working closer, I think it is time for Twitter
to buy their service outright. This will give confidence to Twitter
users about the URL shortening service. If Twitter owns bit.ly, the
chances of the service to go down like tr.im are actually very slim.
There is no way Twitter will shut down a service that is so intertwined
with their own. Plus, Twitter is yet to monetize their service. I am
pretty sure that one of their options will be based on data mining.
Bit.ly offers an opportunity here with their own collection of data
which can be effectively mined and monetized. Their existing close
partnership with bit.ly should make it easy for Twitter to go forward
with this option. It is important for Twitter to understand that their
success depends on a reliable URL shortening service and buy one such
service rather than partner with them. This will help people trust that
URL shortening service and use in their tweets.
For those of you
who are looking for a reliable URL shortener, consider buying a really
short domain name and host it on Google Apps. Google Apps offer a short
link service hosted on Google App Engine as an add-on to their Google
Apps service. You will be able to shorten using your domain with a
bookmarklet. This service offers some basic level analytics which can
be useful for users.
Update: Sam Johnston suggests a great alternative to the problems associated with URL shortners. He has built a community service using a mechanism for webmasters to indicate the preferred short URL(s) for a given resource, thereby avoiding the need to consult a potentially insecure/unreliable third-party for same. It is running on Google App Engine. Check it out here.
- Tr.im Shuts Down; Is There A Business In URL Shortening?
- tr.im Throws In the Towel
- Tr.im URL Shortener Shuts Down; Short Links to Die?
- Twitter Hammers Nail in Coffin for Tr.im
- The Problem with URL Shorteners: ow.ly Server Errors
- Twitter’s platform shortcomings
- SHORTURL SAVIOR: Bit.ly Swoops in to Save Tr.im