TinyURL.com has been around forever (didn’t realize it was just 2002, until they got publicity), people used them when ugly nasty query strings broke in emails. They predated Twitter, predated Social media, and predated link popularity as a mainstream thing to worry about.
Tr.im didn’t seem to have a model other than “I’ll knock off TinyURL” with 6 fewer characters using an international TLD that seems Web 2.0 and clever. They seem extremely upset that Bit.ly, with one extra character ripped off their idea.
The fact is, there is NO reason that Twitter counts URL characters in Tweets. The idea of a microblog was the SMS integration, hence the 140 character restriction, the 160 of SMS less 20 to handle control characters. Twitter could easily treat your URL as a symbol, relaying it as a normal URL on the website, and a Bit.ly one on their SMS connections with the appropriate character count.
Twitter is a small percentage of the Internet. It’s a fascinating exploration of how a simple technology can capture imagination and run with it, most of Twitter, @username, #hashtags, and shortened URLs were all things pushed by the user base, not Twitter with it’s simple Follow/Following/Feed base approach to their data.
However, TinyURL had 70% of their traffic from non-Twitter, Tr.im seemed to have no push other than Twitter, and left the company in the lurch. I find the whole thing kind of silly, Twitter ought to roll URL shortening into their package, and stop molesting links when it’s not needed (on the website) and shorten where the 140 character limit matters. But Twitter isn’t a technology company, they are a social fad with a only presence.
95% of Americans don’t Tweet, so while Twitter is exciting to a part of the technology elite, it’s not where most Americans go to find things, so overstating its importance is a bit silly. Email and Web search still dominate the Internet usage, social media may get there, but Twitter is not the end all and be all of the universe.
This makes Tr.im’s whining about Bit.ly not only counter productive and pointless, but also wrong.