Talking tech since 2003

In a place where every character counts, URL Shortening services such as bit.ly have been gaining a lot of popularity.  Web services such as Twitter which limit you to 140 characters of text per tweet (including spaces) have helped the development of these URL Shortening services.  For example, TinyURL which was once just a simple web service that allowed people to shorten URL’s to make them more easily sharable, has been overtaken by bit.ly with regard to being the current most popular shortening service.  But herein lies the problem; once these URL shortening services gain such mass popularity and people are constantly shortening URL’s with their service there will come a time where using it will defeat the purpose of shortening the URL itself.  Granted it make take quite some time, but, in a place where every character counts it could be a very big potential problem.

Current bit.ly URL’s are at a point where there are 6 characters added to every (non-custom) URL.  That makes for a total of 11 characters not including http:// and the other forward slash that occurs after bit.ly.  So in essence a shortened bit.ly URL is now 19 characters… and growing.  The more people use bit.ly to shorten URL’s the faster this character count will rise.  Which leads me to the question of, what happens when short URL’s aren’t really so short anymore?

I realize bit.ly also recently purchased j.mp, but that mirrors bit.ly’s database of short URL’s which means that it is growing at the same rate, it’s just two characters shorter.  Nonetheless, when these short URL’s just aren’t short enough anymore will companies be forced to re-brand and find a new domain?  It seems like it could be quite an annoying cycle.  Not to mention, short URL’s are becoming very popular and are now harder and harder to get.

I just launched my own URL shortening service yesterday, bt.gd which is still in the very basic stages, but it works and it has very short URL’s (since it’s brand new).  So feel free to use it if you like.

I’m curious to know your thoughts on what will happen in the future when these short URL’s well, aren’t so short.  Leave a comment!

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