If anyone is disappointed that Lean Domain Search shutdown their brandable domain and domain name trends section recently you can at least be happy that the domain name generator is now completely free to use.
Some people might be thinking, “Hey wasn't Lean Domain Search free to use before?” While technically it was free but it would only show you a partial list of the available domain names with your keyword (or keywords). I believe it originally only showed you about 150-300 domain names depending on what keyword you used. Now you can see a list of 4,000-5,000 domains (depending on your keyword) to find the perfect domain name for your needs.
The old model that Lean Domain Search worked off of was what is known as freemium. That means the service is free to use but for premium services you have to pay. In the case with Lean Domain Search you would have to pay to see the full list of domain names. The subscription pricing was $79 for two months or $199 per year which worked out to $16.58 a month.
That wasn't too expensive considering how good a domain generator Matt Mazur, the creator of Lean Domain Search, built. Especially since you got a big list of available domain names you could register and start using immediately.
However one of the issues with freemium models is that it is hard to convince someone to pay for a service even when you are providing them good features. I assume one of the reasons Matt Mazur decided to show people the full list of available domain names was not too many people were signing-up for the paid subscriptions. There is a better chance of him making money if people can see a wide range of domain names and register one they like.
Lean Domain Search uses affiliate links from domain registrars. If you click through and buy a domain name Matt gets a little money from that sale. This is a win-win since you found a good domain name to register and Matt gets some cash for his efforts.
Whether the Matt will bring back the paid subscriptions for Lean Domain Search and this is a temporary switch for the domain generator I am not sure. I would imagine it is permanent as it would annoy users to go from a paid model, to a free model, and then back to paid model again.
The only other comparable domain name generator I have seen is Impossibility.org. This allows you to be a little more specific if you want a shorter domain name and searching for verbs, nouns, or adjectives. I'd check that out if you are having trouble finding a good domain name for your new website.
Still I think Lean Domain Search should is an excellent place to find a great available domain name. I am glad to see the change to a free model to but that means it will be that much harder for me to find a good domain name.