Alex and Richard compare the Google Competitors based on their points of differentiation and come to the fairly obvious conclusion that:
So overall, even though there is a lot of activity in the space, it seems like Google will remain the search king for the foreseeable future. Various approaches will have different degrees of success in seizing bits of the market, but to make a serious dent will require time, flawless execution, big marketing dollars and, of course, a better technology. This is not a trivial combination of things.
Alex goes on to say:
...another promising contender (mentioned by Emre) is personalized search. With this technology, search results are going to be organized not by PageRank but by your personal interests. It is likely that a combination of a vertical search and personalized search is going to deliver fundamentally better results than Google, so that might have a chance. However, as we pointed out with the other technologies. Google is not going to sleep through this.
A commenter called Eric, however, hits the nail on the head:
The only way Google is going to be beaten is when the next great paradigm shift in computing comes along. IBM wasn't beaten by another hardware vendor, it was beaten by Microsoft's operating system. Microsoft wasn't beaten by a another
operating system, it's being beaten by the web. It follows then that Google isn't going to be beaten by another search product, it will be beaten by something else.
It stands to reason that if any of these other things prove viable, Google will incorporate it into their own product. Just like Microsoft never plays the innovator with Windows - when you're the leader, you just have to be "good enough" and copy the best ideas from competitors.
The question we should be asking is: what's the next paradigm going to be?
So maybe this is not about beating Google at search, but rather going beyond 'search' and towards a new paradigm that is more useful.
Im surprised that both Alex and Richard did not mention Touchstone or APML in the article when referring to Personalization of results by comparing them against your interests.
I think, however, the next frontier for search specifically is not finding better pages, but better structured data in the form of microformats or other forms of structured data from inside pages (like Blue Organizer, Edgeio, Vast). Again, surprised that Alex didn't mention Blue Organizer or the other - considering he owns it. Maybe he did not want to show bias.
Also, going beyond multiple results at all to return the actual answer. Very much like AskX - now THAT's innovation.