Google, the giant of the Internet, announced a move into the realm of the small Monday: URL shorteners, which condense long Web addresses into very short ones.
“People share a lot of links online. This is particularly true as microblogging services such as Twitter have grown in popularity,” the company said in a blog post announcing the initiative.
The new Goo.gl service is a direct attack on Bit.ly, a URL shortener developed in-house at Betaworks Studio. Bit.ly has fast become the de facto link shortener on Twitter and many third-party Twitter clients, and the service even raised a $2 million round of venture financing from investors that included Alpha Tech Ventures, the software industry pioneer Mitch Kapor and the early Google investor Ron Conway.
Bit.ly didn’t wait long before striking back at mighty Google. Late Monday, the company announced that it will begin creating custom URLs for a number of Web sites and publishers, including Microsoft’s Bing search engine, The New York Times, Associated Content, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Onion and Meebo.
The custom URLs will begin rolling out on Bit.ly’s partner sites tonight and continue to deploy over the next several days.