So, Google made their URL shortener goo.gl publicly available and, while some have questioned the need for yet another address shrinking service, most welcome the addition due to its minimal downtime and implicit staying power backed as it is by the search behemoth which, let's face it, isn't going anywhere.
I mentioned a while back about the potential for Google to use their shortener for tracking, statistics and finding related content or users.
If all google products use their own native shortening service then they still have a wealth of data to mine both for strict info purposes but also as a means to improved the functionality of their existing portfolio - most noticeably, search - but is goo.gl really ready for prime time? Goo.gl presents click statistics in a nice, granular format listing referrers, browser, platform and country but does not list shared instances such as tweets a lá bit.ly.
Why switch from bit.ly?
Bit.ly is a great service but doesn't appear to have moved with the times. I would suggest it needs to update or risk losing users. For example, Friendfeed is virtually dead in the water since its acquisition by Facebook but bit.ly still references the number of shares on the aggregation service as a metric for your links - this is no longer of any real use.
How about Google Buzz? I, and others, often draw parallels between Buzz now and FriendFeed in its hey-day with the former being very much in the plans of Googles social endeavours. It would make far more sense for a link tracker to reference Buzz rather than another service which is going the way of the Dodo.
Integration, integration, integration
How can goo.gl improve? The obvious answer is for it to have integration with other Google services. As stated above, link or mention tracking in Google Buzz would be an obvious place to start; indicating the number of shares with the service, who shared it and providing a link to that share would be very valuable in order to track discussion.
While goo.gl has launched without an API, which may possibily a bit short sighted, there is promise of one being made available which will only appeal to developers and content producers further. The ability to automate shortened URL creation and include statistics directly in your product or site will be a boon. Combine this with the built in creation of QR codes just by adding .qr to the end of the shortened URLs and you are on to a winner.
The news this week that the Libyan registration service NIC.ly is pulling .ly domains (such as vb.ly) which are considered to break local Sharia law - amongst other reasons - has obviously caused some concern. When you add that it is felt those domains with less that 4 characters should can be given to locals then sites like bit.ly should be concerned.
We may have now seen the update in which NIC.ly say that had vb.ly been a normal URL shortener then it would have been okay but it doesn't get away from the fact that using .ly is still potentially risky.
If bit.ly were to disappear in this fashion then goo.gl could really benefit but needs to up it's game and iterate to provide at least some of the functionality offered by it's rival.