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Apple introduces vanity URLs, may have Amazon-battling bonus

Star Trek App Store URLApple has introduced a new shortened, vanity-style URL option for developers to use outside the iTunes App Store, whereby typing followed by the name of the app into a browser should direct anyone interested to their choice, or a set of broader search results. Not only is it more convenient, but companies also get to promote their apps in an easy to remember way.

Proof of this came during the Superbowl, when the new URL system made its debut in a Paramount trailer for the forthcoming Star Trek Into Darkness film, which closed with the suggestion to visit Tapping this into your browser of choice either shows you the app, or requests to open iTunes.

A check of Apple’s technical documentation related to the App Store shows this new option came into effect on January 31, and can be used for both the iOS App Store and the Mac App Store, plus the section after the link can point to a single app or an entire company’s catalog.

Using instead of before the app name works in the same way, but don’t add www. to your search, as the domain links to and won’t return any results, no matter what you put after it.

It’s not all about the developers

This is all very convenient for app developers, particularly those who aren’t relying on huge marketing campaigns, as the link can be added to the end of a trailer or any other promotional material and in theory, be remembered later on.

However, the placement of an link in the trailer of one of the highest profile sci-fi films to be released this year is important, as it took the place of an official movie website or a Facebook, Twitter or some other social networking link. With an app being released related to most big budget movies these days, particularly those in the sci-fi and comic book genres, we’ll probably be seeing more of these special links quite soon.

It could also play an important role in Apple’s claim it alone owns the rights to use the phrase “app store, something it has been fighting with Amazon over for some time. Part of the lawsuit was thrown out at the beginning of the year, after the Judge found no correlation between Apple’s App Store and Amazon’s Appstore names, and didn’t believe Amazon was trying to fool visitors into thinking it sold iOS apps.

The fight continues though, and the pair will meet in court this August to fight it out over Apple’s copyright infringement claim. Pushing the URL into heavy use between now and then, helping prove Apple is publicly associated with the term, could see it become part of its legal assault plan.

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