On the Internet, when something makes click and becomes very popular overnight, it takes usually less than a month before similar services are offered to the public, often with a similar or slightly modified feature set.
URL shorteners, those services that turn long urls into short ones, are very popular on today's Internet. Why? I have no idea to be honest. I can see their use in some situations, when text space is limited, or when it is difficulty to type (on a mobile phone for instance), but it ends there. Yes, I may be old fashioned about that, but I cannot see another reason for using an url shortening service, unless you are an Internet Marketers or curious user, and want to know who clicks on the links (that's because some of the services offer traffic statistics for registered users).
Now, Google has developed their own url shortener and made it public on the domain Goo.gl. Users who visit the website see a simply form on top that allows the visitor to shorten any url entered into the form.
The resulting shortened url is displayed right on the same page, probably making use of Ajax to do that. Ghacks.net for instance was turned into http://goo.gl/pKTg by the service. As usual, Google account owners who sign in get more options features than users who are not.
Signed in users can for instance build a list of urls that they have shortened. This acts as a reminder or archive for the user, but also as a hub to view traffic statistics of any url in the list.
Webmasters with a Feedburner account may be in for a surprise, as Google is apparently turning Feedburner urls automatically into Goo.gl urls. All the latest posts of the websites that use Feedburner are displayed in the listing.
A click on Details displays basic statistics, including from which countries the users came that clicked on the link, and which operating system and web browser they have been using.
While that sounds nice, is it enough for users to switch from another service such as Bit.ly to Goo.gl? Google's name will probably attract some users, but I cannot see the majority of users switching to Goo.gl, unless they manage to cooperate with a large popular service.
So, who needs Goo.gl? I leave that as an open question, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.