Apple introduced short links for the App Store last Friday, providing developers with an easy-to-remember short URL for use in advertising. As noted by several sites, the new service made a public debut during last night’s Super Bowl as part of a commercial for the next installment of the J.J. Abrams Star Trek saga.
On February 1, Apple notified developers via the company’s developer portal that “App Store Short Links” would soon be distributed using the “appstore.com” domain:
Provide a simple way for users to find your apps with easy-to-remember App Store Short Links. Using an AppStore.com URL that includes your app or company name, you can create links to a single app or all of your apps. These links are accessible worldwide and will automatically direct users to their country’s respective App Store or Mac App Store.
During the first half of the Super Bowl, the new trailer for Star Trek: Into Darkness ended with a reference to an App Store short link and a small “Available on the App Store” badge. This was in lieu of a reference to the film’s official website, perhaps indicating an important shift in the way films are marketed.
Apple continues to use the “itunes.apple.com” domain for standard URLs linking to App Store content for now, but the new “appstore.com,” which was a gift to Steve Jobs and Apple from then-CEO of Salesforce Marc Benioff in 2008, has obvious advantages for promoting apps via print and television.
For example, the official Star Trek: Into Darkness iOS app previously lived here:
With the new Short Link service, iOS users can now also use this link to reach the same content:
While developers with sufficient funds and experience could always set up a custom URL that redirects to App Store content, the new Short Links will give all developers an opportunity to advertise their products without the hassle of establishing and maintaining custom URLs. It also gives Apple a sense of uniformity in its App ecosystem.
Developers should note that they will not be able to choose their own short name for the service; as mentioned in the developer documentation, Apple will assign short names when apps are submitted.
Three types of links will be provided: company name (http://appstore.com/companyname), app name (http://appstore.com/appname), and app by company (http://appstore.com/companyname/appname). These links will work for both the iOS and Mac App Stores, with “mac” added to the address to denote a link to content on the latter platform (http://appstore.com/mac/appname).
Short names that are generic or in-demand will send users to an App Store search page showing all applicable apps. Apple uses the example of http://appstore.com/airhockey to illustrate this scenario. The company’s documentation then urges developers to use unique names to avoid confusion and to help their app stand out.
Apple is currently fighting a legal battle with Amazon over the use of the “App Store” trademark. The two companies will meet March 21 to attempt court-ordered settlement negotiations.