Sterling Market Intelligence analyst Greg Sterling is torn. He told me the idea that Google will lead search for the next 20 years or so seems logically impossible. While Microsoft has dominated desktop software with Office for the last couple decades, the same monopoly seems impossible given the highly transitive nature of the Internet, Sterling argued.
"However, there have been a lot of competitors that have come at Google, including very, very well funded ones such as Microsoft and Yahoo, without success. In a period of intensifying search competition, Google seemed to consolidate its lead. The more money and attention was poured into the space, the more Google seemed to grow. Google has become this unassailable juggernaut in search, but you just can't imagine the company maintaining this indefinitely, but I could be wrong."
One of the issues is that while Hakia, Wikia, and others make bold claims, they haven't duplicated the efficiency of Google search.
Moreover, Sterling said his inclination is to look at the mobile search market, but Google is already established there and stands to grow larger thanks to Android.
One reader, Jim P., argues that Google's proprietary search and ranking algorithms, the keys to making the search engine so effective, will ultimately give ground to an open source provider.
"I anticipate that eventually, some search engine will allow the USER to select and tune their own ranking algorithm(s). And that many new and tunable or configurable algorithms will become available through open source efforts. The aim is for the USER to control the search biases with full transparency. Could Wikia Search be that new, free and open search engine on which 21st century freedom will depend? Google, for all its value, clearly is not."
Methinks Jim P is placing too much emphasis on the power of open source versus proprietary systems. Linux may be a big bugaboo for Windows, but it has hardly unseated that desktop operating system juggernaut. I suspect this will hold true in search.
Sterling, meanwhile, said there will be some successor to the current version of search, noting that it could come from mobile or Internet-based television. This provider would have to be more effective and efficient than Google.
I agree, but we haven't seen it; it's certainly not available in the market now despite all of the bold claims of betterment from today's search startups.
I see nothing that can effectively challenge Google's reign, either now or in the foreseeable future.