Most people were watching the Superbowl tonight because they were interested in football. Others were watching because they wanted to see the extravagant TV ads. If you happen to fall into the second category and you are at least a little geeky (which I count as a good thing) you may have noticed that Apple debuted a new service for developers: AppStore.com vanity URLs.
What does it mean? Instead of the current ugly (and impossible to communicate) apple.com URLs, your app can now sport a fancy Appstore.com/YourAppName URL. Sure, URL shortening services have existed for ages, but they aren’t much easier to remember and don’t let you flaunt your brand with pride. Most developers have been getting around this problem by creating Facebook landing pages or other websites to market their creations, but those are all measures that mean additional steps and hassle for anybody that wants to buy their app.
Sounds pretty great, at least in theory.
Apple’s official word on the matter raises eyebrows on the exact problem that came to mind when I first heard about the new URL scheme:
“You can also create easy-to-read links to your app using App Store Short Links, which use the AppStore.com base URL plus a specific form of your app or company name. This provides a simple way for users to find your apps on the App Store directly from your website or marketing campaigns. These short links are ideal for use in offline communications materials like print ads, TV spots, app trailers, radio ads and billboards.”
They key here being the phrase “a specific form.” With over 800,000 titles in the App Store and plenty of common ground between them, getting the URL you hope for may be next to impossible (think about how hard it is to get a .com domain name when you want one).
To resolve potential conflicts, Apple has said that URLs with too much ‘common ground’ will land surfers on a search page –frustrating or brilliant? Best guesses would suggest that those developers first out of the gate will get the best names while late-comers will be stuck with oddities and desperate attempts to be clever with their naming conventions.