Today Google announced that they would no longer be offering their Google Apps for Business for free.
There has been a lot of talk that Google may give domains away for free if they are successful securing a new tld string. Maybe with the announcement of Google Apps no longer being free the management team is seeing that there has to be a fee for a useful business tool.
I think domains would fall under that category and maybe Google will not give these new domains away. Google will certainly have to outbid some other big players for the most popular strings.
I read an excellent comment by poster allenfalcon on ZD Net about Google charging for Google Apps, "Giving away an enterprise class service for free de-values the brand and
continues the perception that Google Apps is about email rather than
communication and collaboration."
Of course domains are not the same as Google Apps but they are still an important tool for any business and maybe Google will not offer them for free. What customers really don't want is to get it for free and then come back later and tell them its $50 a year for their business .web domain.