As new generic top level domains are launched daily and businesses recognise the potential of these new gTLDs for building brands and identities online (as opposed to haggling or shelling out ridiculous amounts of money for .com and .net domains owned by domain flippers and squatters), it’s not surprising that the total number of domain registrations for gTLDs are near the millionth mark. It’s also not surprising that the top two ranking gTLDs are .club (64,579 registrations) and .guru (60,201 registrations), given the inherent popularity of each word.
The fourth ranked is .berlin (47,921) and the fifth, .photography (37,173) – again, not surprising particularly in the case of .photography, given the number of amateur and professional photographers online. But the fifth top ranked domain, .xyz (36,335) is a little bit suspicious, especially since more than 27 thousand new registrations for said gTLD belong to Network Solutions (NetSol) and its parent company Web.com, which only had 16,790 domain name registrations among the new gTLDs before the .xyz launch. Upon the launch of the .xyz domain, NetSol’s numbers skyrocketed to 44,476 registrations for the .xyz domain alone, accounting for 62.25% of the company’s total registrations.
Suspicions of artificially inflated numbers started surfacing after thedomains.com posted a news story revealing that Network Solutions is giving out a complementary .xyz domain free for 1 year to people who buy a .com domain on their service. Additionally, in order to decline the offer, the user has to visit a link and specifically click a "decline" button. Otherwise, the domain is awarded automatically.
It’s very likely that some of those .xyz registrations are actual legitimate registrations from people who want the domain, but given the huge spike in these registrations compared to other domain registrars (particularly compared to GoDaddy.com, which is currently more popular and offers relatively cheaper rates,) it’s very easy to deduce that the numbers are significantly boosted by this promotion.
The rankings are important in that the apparent popularity of each gTLD is likely to influence purchasing patterns - people will be caused to think that .xyz is popular (to some unknown demographic? To non-English speakers?) and will be encouraged by the high ranking to purchase .xyz domains. It will be interesting to see if new gTLDs will use the same tactic or will come up with other strategies.