Twitter’s new and native URL shortening functionality (t.co) is going to make other URL shorteners such as ow.ly, is.gd and bit.ly totally obsolete.
I guess those businesses could see it coming. URL shortening is fairly basic functionality. It would take a decent developer a couple of days (if that) to comp something together that works well enough. It seems morally bankrupt of large social networks to toss aside small apps that add value to their platform by blatantly copying functionality.
However, with URL shorteners it seems like it was simply an oversight not to add them from the off and that their replacement was inevitable. Incidentally, it seems like URL shortening is going to be a key factor in their Promoted Tweets revenue plan. Whereas some applications like Farmville on Facebook seem very difficult to duplicate because of their originality and quirky appeal. It would seem a bit rubbish for Facebook to simply come out with Farmbook as a direct competitor to Farmville once they saw the success of the latter. However, it doesn’t stop them copying the likes of iLike or RockYou. It will be interesting to see how Twitter ‘deals’ with the URL shortening apps. When they omitted search functionality in the early days, they simply bought up Summize and added it to the search subdomain. The sum that Twitter paid for Summize hasn’t been disclosed, however, Summize itself was funded to the tune of $750k so it certainly wasn’t worthless. Suffice to say some developers got jobs out of it.
It’s sad that, as a parasitic app, your success can be your undoing. And developers are going to start trusting large networks less and less. The strategy for many, such as Tweetdeck and Farmville is to use the network as an incubator and then detach themselves from the host like the chestburster scene in Alien, albeit with slightly less blood.
The kind of risk involved in developing a wholly parasitic app is one of the dangers of Technology Remixing – you’re always dependent on the whims of the host.