Kassey Lee examines .icu in China, where most of its registrations are.
According to Namestat.org, the .icu extension is the best-selling new gTLD (I prefer calling it niche extension) with more than 4.2 million registrations in total and 3.7 million registrations in China. This is a significant size when compared with the 12.8 million .com domains in the same market. So, are .icu domains actively used in corporate China like .com?
The term “icu” is supposed to mean “I see you” but I doubt many consumers in China understand the meaning of the acronym. The first Baidu search result on “icu” is actually a Baidu encyclopedia entry on “Intensive Care Unit”. Anyway, I did a simple test by entering “site:icu” into Baidu search. This search parameter lists domains belonging to the .icu extension. I then checked the first five pages of search results (50 domains).
The only search result found to have real content is NIC.icu, which is actually a compulsory domain the .icu registry must use to provide general information about the .icu extension. It was the first search result displayed. The remaining search results were mostly adult or lottery/betting sites. A blogging site (ovwane.icu) was found but it is not business in nature. Several sites displayed a warning of hacker risk. One domain did not even resolve.
One name that stands out is Yi Ke Long (亿客隆). No detailed information about this name was found but this name is associated with a lot of domains in the search results. Examples are NBSWZ.icu, UKRZN.icu, and AJKEU.icu. I have no idea what all these character combinations mean. They all have a simple home page with no clear purpose.
Also, often the title and description in a search result are different from its website content. For example, the search result for AJKEU.icu indicates a tourism agency in Zhejiang but the actual website is just a simple directory. Some domains even forward visitors to the .top extension. For example, LDLFJ(.)icu redirects to 666.JTDFP(.)top (betting site) and m.15887878753(.)icu goes to 789.LFJDG(.)top.
With plenty of domains available for registration at affordable prices in the last few years, I expected to find good quality domains in the search results. Surprisingly, I found none and I found no serious website developed. There is no sign that .icu is actively used by corporate China.