Hootsuite, which I use for tracking and composing tweets, comes with a URL shortner: ow.ly. It is a versatile tool that I use whenever I want to introduce a web link. It is like having a freebie. On a free web application.
The only downside of ow.ly is that it shows off the Hootsuite advertisement at the top of the destination page. Wait a second, maybe I am exposing my colleagues the fact that I am a semi-Twitter addict. Let's hope they already know. We all hate surprise.
URL shorteners came a long way to become shorter thatn the original TinyURL days. Because they all have tracking features to find out who clicked how many times at what hours, major companies are joining the bandwagon by providing their proprietary shortners. Statistics might be worse than damn lies, but we still trust it despite/because of.
To me, ow.ly is still the best just because it has only four characters, the shortest of all major shorteners. Can others follow suit? Here are the major shorteners and how they can be improved.
Google: google.com -> goo.gl
Nearly perfect, but it is still five characters. Also it is hard to pronounce. What about gu.ge? Their soon-to-be-closed Chinese version is pronounced Gu-Ge (谷歌) anyhow. They won't mind about copy infringement, if done internally.
Youtube: youtube.com -> youtu.be
Too long. Following our SMS conventions, "you" -> U, and "tu" -> 2. Therefore, U2.be. Oh, no.
New York Times: nytimes.com -> nyti.ms
Again, too long. What about ny.ti? Sounds like Nice Tie? because all people who read New York Times in paper apparently wear ties. They will be extinct soon, of course.
Facebook: facebook.com -> fb.me
This is a smart naming. "Facebook Me." Also short. But not exactly flawless. They should focus more on the core part of their brand, the "Face" part. Therefore, it should be fc.me. Hmm, maybe no.
The losers should have some redemption too.
TinyURL: tinyurl.com -> tinyurl.com
They might be the pioneer of URL shorteners, but their days are numbered. It's time to start anew: they should pick ti.ny. There, much better.
Microsoft: Bing.com -> Binged.it
This TechCrunch article says it eloquently: they are (as usual) beyond redemption. fa.il.