rainborick - 2:24 am on Sep 26, 2007 (gmt 0)
In my opinion, the best answer depends on your plans and how much work you're willing to do. The domain names with the Country Code Top Level Domain Names (.co.uk, .de, etc.) would have several ranking advantages in their target countries, but new domains would be prone to poor rankings in Google until they have existed long enough to earn some trust from Google. Its possible to get new domains to rank well by getting some especially strong links from well-ranking sites, but its not easy. So, over the short term, subdirectories in an existing well-ranked domain would probably tend to rank better. You might be able to cleverly try both methods at the same time by putting your best content in the subdirectories while you let the new domains with the Country Code Top Level Domain Names mature.