Before the year's end Twitter plans to roll out their own link service on t.co (can't get much shorter!).
Twitter’s link service at http://t.co is used to better protect users from malicious sites that engage in spreading malware, phishing attacks, and other harmful activity. A link converted by Twitter's link service is checked against a list of potentially dangerous sites. When there's a match, users can be warned before they continue.
Our link service will also be used to measure information like how many times a link has been clicked. Eventually, this information will become an important quality signal for our Resonance algorithm—the way we determine if a Tweet is relevant and interesting.
And here's a solid article about the reason a t.co URL shortener could be a very big deal for Twitter:
Cookies, long the basis for tracking users, need web browsers to store them. In a world where we share URLs via email and social networks, those cookies get lost along the way, and with them the ability to track viral spread of a message...
Every time you access the Internet through a particular app -- Facebook, Gowalla, Yelp, Foursquare, and so on -- you're surfing from within a walled garden. If you click on a link, all the marketer sees is a new visit. The referring URL is lost, and with it, the context of your visit.
This is why short URLs are so important. URLs survive the share... That's why URLs are the new cookies.
Msg#: 4196264 posted 4:08 am on Sep 14, 2010 (gmt 0)
the short t.co url will only necessarily survive within the walled garden of twitter. when the browser requests the new location, that redirected url is what will be displayed in the address bar and is what will more likely be copied and shared than the t.co link in the tweet. this will be especially true if the wrapped link is displayed in the tweet as one of the many formats described such as a partial url or page title instead of the t.co url or full original url. there will probably be a backlash in FB and other social sites and sharing apps where they will deconstruct and probably "rewrap" any t.co links that are posted. the real backlash will occur when twitter start unilaterally changing #coffee to #Charbucks