Tr.im URL Chopper Is Back ... and Still Doomed

Remember when URL shortener tr.im announced its closure? Sure you do, it was just two days ago. Well ... it's back. Or it never quite went away. Or it's not going to stay long. Or something like that, according to its blog. What the heck's going on?

Execs at tr.im took to their blog again late last night to post the news. "We have restored tr.im, and re-opened its Web site. We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the popular response, and the countless public and private appeals I have received to keep tr.im alive." While this is a slightly surprising event, it's not unprecedented: Everything from TV shows to cookies have come back to life after some impassioned pleas from a concerned public (in this case, frequent Twitterers).

But the post goes on to explain why tr.im's owners closed it down, and why it came back. It's kind of rambling, across a list of points. Here's the gist of it:

  1. Tr.im was shut because Twitter has a bias towards bit.ly. This monopoly'll be a problem for all Twitter developers. We're not whining.
  2. Tr.im should stay alive, with link heritage intact. Selling it to someone won't necessarily work.
  3. We won't add advertising. No one wants it. It won't make anyone any money.
  4. This wasn't a publicity stunt. At all.

Has that cleared things up for you? No? Well, let's summarize the summary.

  1. Tr.im is back
  2. Tr.im will remain available for sale to someone
  3. Tr.im is doomed (as is everyone, apart from bit.ly)

It's all a little strange, and the arguments don't make much sense to me. Who'd revive a net-based service thanks to customer demand and then suggest that its whole industry is doomed because ad placements won't work and Twitter is biased towards bit.ly? It's not exactly a good sales pitch to potential buyers for the service. And, given that Twitterers often use desktop and in-phone Twitter clients that let you choose your URL shortening service (mine, for example, was set to tr.im before Monday), then the key part of the argument doesn't even make sense.

This whole debacle has demonstrated one useful thing: Social-network services are perhaps a lot more vulnerable in terms of viability than you might have thought. And the upshot is that tr.im in its existing incarnation is probably still doomed. Its management at Nambu doesn't seem to have the energy or business savvy to turn it into a revenue generator. After all, closing this latest blog post they note, "We simply did not expect the response to Sunday's announcement that we received." Oh, really?

[via blog.tr.im]

Add New Comment

3 Comments

  • Salvador Bean

    I never understood how companies like bit.me and what was the other famous one, tinyurl are making money. It's like they're cashing their visitors as internet money at a bank somewhere, that is eating it up. I don't get it. Because as a website owner (about dating tips), if I only got visitors who never shelled out any money, I would be working a job somewhere.

  • Kit Eaton

    @Ryan... exactly: how can a business like this survive without working out a clever way to monetize its services? I'm surprised tr.im found this to be a surprising fact.

  • Ryan Thompson

    This was a good lesson for companies to re-think their short URL strategy. At HintCafe, we regularly tweet about new posts on our Ask Amy blog. We don't like to use bit.ly as their stats are public and there is no option to make the stats private. With the whole tr.im news, we decided to build our own short URL service, which is not the shortest, but still does the job in most of our tweets. Like URL http://hintcafe.com/l/s4p which links to a blog post. Its not the shortest URL around, but its still short enough to be used in twitter. And, we don't have to depend on a third party free service which might close its doors someday. How can a URL shortner service survive for long without a business model?