Yesterday, Charlie Schick was lamenting that TinyURL wasn't mobile savvy, as he's getting more and more TinyURLs over SMS via Twitter, and was thinking it's a shame that they aren't automatically mobilized. Believe me, I'm totally on board with that sentiment, and it got me thinking about the idea of tiny mobilized URLs again...
Twitter seems to be using the TinyURL API to encode URLs before they're sent, but the problem with simply mobilizing *all* the URLs is that they still have a large share of web and IM traffic as well, and the people reading the messages there don't need mobilized URLs. What would really be optimal is for TinyURL to detect mobile browsers and prepend 'http://mowser.com/web/' to the URL before redirecting... but I'm sure that would require an amount of cash incentive for those guys to do this that I don't have. :-) I really have to wonder how many of their 1.6 billion hits this month were mobile?
In case you're wondering why use TinyURL at all, or why not do something similar, the answer is we did! Back during the summer when Seni was still on board, we had created a mobile-specific clone of TinyURL for Mowser, but not many people ended up using it, mostly I think because people don't really know or trust a "mowserized" URL like they do a TinyURL, which has been around for long enough that everyone kind of gets the idea when they see a tinyurl.com link. So learning from this, the goal isn't to create an alternative, but to work with TinyURL as best as possible. To that effect, I've been playing with some ideas...
First, here's a simple Bookmarklet that I made which you can drag/drop into your toolbar and you'll get a button you can use to make a TinyURL of the web page you're viewing, but prepended with the Mowser mobilizer URL:
That way people could use the bookmarklet to mobilize a URL before sending it off to Twitter (who, I hope, will pass it through untouched). I did this using Charlie's post above and got back a mobilized url of http://tinyurl.com/252eug, which is different from the normal, unmodified URL http://tinyurl.com/2b67vw.
Secondly, I added in another Search keyword for Mowser - "ti" - which accepts TinyURL.com codes. For example, if you get a TinyURL in your SMS that looks like this: http://tinyurl.com/2b67vw simply pull up Mowser from your mobile's bookmarks, type "ti 2b67vw" and Mowser will pull up the right URL and mobilize it... OK, OK, I know... who's going to do this? I have no idea, but it was a fun hack. It'd probably be just as easy on a smartphone to just copy/paste the whole URL into the Mowser box instead - which will work fine, by the way - but it was a 2 minute addition so I threw it out there.
I also played with the idea of putting a "Make TinyURL" form at the top of the mobilized pages, and creating a /tinyurl/ URL pattern which would automatically redirect... but both seemed to be a bit more effort then they needed to be for the amount of return in value. Again, the optimal solution would be to get into the redirecting process somehow. If you have any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them.