Late last week, Google url shortener (also called Goo.gl url shortener) was made available for public use. According to Matt Cutts' blog, the URL shortener was developed first for Google as a shortener that wouldn't go away and one that would handle redirects correctly.
Recently, the Libyan government began seizing .ly urls that do not conform to the religious beliefs of the people (vb.ly being the prime example). Since there are numerous .ly url shorteners, the possibility is real that sites such as bit.ly may be in jeopardy as well. Now is a great time for Google to introduce this product.
The url shortener has two great features. The first being the shortener performs permanent 301 redirects. Going forward, I have much more faith in Google to permanently redirect my shortened url than other websites.
The second feature is a belssing for those who can't get enough Google Analytics type metrics. If you are logged into your Google account, you can view the history of urls you have shortened along with analytical information about those who have clicked on your urls.
If you are a Google Chrome user, there are plugins available to utilize with the product offering.