.COM is driving the growth of country code top level domains, in my opinion.
This past weekend I was looking in the newspaper, checking the domains (as usual) that companies were using in their ads. I saw one company that was using a really nice .ca domain, and I thought they probably couldn't get the domain in .com, but the .ca will work really well for them.
And then it struck me...
It's always been known that as .com domains get taken, other extensions will get used if the term people want is available (like in .ca, .net, .org). But what happens next is also important.
That business that regged the .ca because they couldn't get the .com will now advertise their .ca URL on business cards, tv, radio, newspaper, etc, giving the .ca further credibility in the minds of Canadians.
So as .com becomes less of an option, we have people turning to .ca, then advertising their .ca and creating that awareness and acceptance of the .ca extension.
It's to the point now where if only a .com is taken, Canadians will choose the .ca even if the .net, .org, .info and so on are available. I've even seen a few instances where a .ca name was registered and the .com was still available!
Step 1 - .com is registered, get the .ca (not the .net or .org)
Step 2 - all these businesses advertising .ca and creating acceptance - not to mention all those .ca's used by government we see everyday
Step 3 - Canadian public see .ca domains everywhere, when it comes time for them to need a domain name, .ca becomes a top choice
In a sense, the lack of good .com's is promoting the use of .ca in two ways - forcing people to register a .ca, and then the promotion by the registrants of those .ca domains.
And I believe the same thing is happening in other countries, like Germany (.de), Spain (.es), UK (.co.uk) and so on. I think it will happen in the USA (.us), but for some reason the acceptance of their country code extension is taking more time there.