Is bit.ly the next big content aggregator?

Bit.ly bundle, a tool which lets users cluster shortened URLs into a single one and place them into a directory where visitors can read descriptions and leave comments about the content of the displayed URLs, is a welcome surprise among the myriad URL shortening services. Comment fields look and feel like AJAX, but their content is indexed by search engines, such as Google's.

Bundle directories come with a dashboard and displays visitor's source (not really, but it tries to), and total times the page was viewed. For users who use bit.ly a lot, the bundle tools comes pretty handy.

So, is bit.ly the next big content aggregator? One of those sites which earn their living out of traffic without generating any content of their own?

I emailed Gabriel Weinberg, an internet startup entrepreneur and maintainer of Duckduckgo's search engine, to hear what he thinks about this particular move by bit.ly.

IDG: It's pretty fair to state that introducing such a service will increase bandwidth usage, asks for new servers, software and support, doesn't it?

Gabriel Weinberg: Absolutely, at least the first two. They've moved from essentially doing ultra fast redirects to serving actual pages with images.

IDG: Does the term content aggregator make any sense for bit.ly's future?

GB: I think they haven't arrived yet, but are certainly heading in that direction.

IDG: So, where is the money in it?

GB: Well, for starters, contextual ads a la adsense seem like a no-brainer as the pages are topical in nature.

IDG: Bit.ly's sidebars on their website are full of room which could host adds. Do you think this might be an option?

GB: Definitely. I'd be very surprised if this wasn't in the long-term plan.

IDG: The share feature will become more important than ever. Since bit.ly is using an "og" meta, which reveals this social feature and is yet used commonly by facebook apps, do you think a merge with any social network, and/or/if, by bit.ly may be on its way?

GB: A lot of the social networks have gotten their own link shortening services going already, so there clearly is some overlap there. Predicting acquisitions is tough, but let's just say I wouldn't be surprised in the least.

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I contacted Bit.ly about these and a couple of other issues, so far, bit.ly did not answer our request for an interview.

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