There was a time when I used just Google as my Internet research guide. Every query was run through Google and only then would I scour the library looking for data. These things, however have been changing slowly.
First into the picture to affect this change was Firefox. The browser had built in search bar where you could customise the source from wher you'd like the data. So if I wanted to know what 'Ombudsman' meant, I didn't need Google. The Dictionary search in Firefox told me what. IMDB gave me the necessary gyaan about movies, Amazon and Answers took over from where these guys left off, and all along I skipped farther away from Google.
Sometime later Wikipedia entered the picture. Initially the 'Wikiable' encyclopaedia on the web had its share of shortcomings, the data wasn't as credible and there wasn't much information available, over time they tightened the editing and filtering techniques and today with close to a million articles have become my Encyclopaedia of choice. Frankly I prefer this Internet based tome to those that can be carried around, the simplest reason for this are the crosslinkages. Of course, they do have their share of gaffes, which the JFK assasination fiasco will elucidate, but by and large Wikipedia has become a very reliable source of information.
The advent of Blogs and RSS also changed the way I searched and browsed the web. Sure both Google and MSN launched their own aggregator sites. Google with its personalised page and MSN with Live.com. But I found feed aggregators, both independent and those that were integarted with the browser, far more convenient.
Now both Yahoo and MSN are playing catch up with Google as far as the search is concerned. Even old favourites such as Ask Jeeves have changed the way they look and provide service. The new Ask.com is a pleasent surprise.I came across this news today, ironically aggergated onto my personalised Google page. If the CFO thinks growth is slowing might I suggest a take over of Mozilla and Wikipedia. That might help Google from being the bright blaze that will eventually die out. And of course they will own the Internet, or atleast be the first point of entry for many.