The number of different TLDs (top level domains) to choose from has increased dramatically in the last few years. There are now more than 1,200 to choose from, so businesses can select the perfect one for their web presence. It is exciting to see how much change there has been in such a short space of time and how the number of new TLDs continues to rise to include popular terms and buzzwords.
To get a good idea of the scale of the change, you only need to look at a graphic published by Kim Davies in March 2009. At the time there were only 280 TLDs in existence. Of that number 248 were unique country code (cc) domains like .uk, .ca and .ru. This represented an impressive 89% of the namespace on the entire internet. On top of this there were 20 generic TLDs (.com, .org, .info, etc), 11 for testing and .arpa, used specifically for technical infrastructure.
By July last year there were over 1000 TLDs. The number of country code domains had only increased a small number in that time, reaching 289. The major growth came in generic domains. In just six years the number had increased to 712. The change saw cc domains accounting for just 29% of the namespace. Since then the number of generics continues to rise.
Business owners can now choose from a huge array of different generic names. There are funny and irreverent ones like .sucks, specific location ones like .London and .Barcelona, and some unusual ones like .horse. One of the most recent to become available is .cloud. This could prove to be popular with start-up cloud computing companies and the domains are currently available for small fees because they are so new.
Even with a high number of different generic domains to choose from, .com continues to dominate. It is by far the most popular TLD choice with over 115 million websites using it. This compares to around 7 million currently using the newer options.
The array of different TLDs to choose from does offer a great deal of choice, but there are many who believe that we could have reached this point much sooner. The man who originally ran the internet naming systems, Dr. Jon Postel, planned for there to be a thousand within a single year. He was renowned for claiming he wanted the internet to bloom to have 1,000 branches. When he passed away in 1998, ICANN took over the role and it took them over 17 years to allow the internet to change as he intended.
The huge array of new choices creates many opportunities and allows companies to create much more specific and memorable domains for themselves, but as always, it is important to think carefully about what kind of namespace you want to choose for your domain.