One of the theories discussed at the Alt Search Engines meeting was that the competition for Search Engines might not just be in different, faster or better search engines but in alternative ways of finding information.
One example is Smart Agents like AllTh.at and Google Alerts. Lots of people use Google Alerts to keep them up-to-date of new information. AllTh.at saves your searches and keeps looking for new results and notifies you via email or RSS. Previously users might have used search engines to find new information. Now there is a continuously updating search query active in the background that notifies us of new results.
Services such as Symbaloo and Netvibes make it easier to manage lots of information. This makes it easier to browse the web and find stuff. For a lot of people Google is THE portal to the web. They don’t use bookmarks or even URLs but simply open a browser, wait for Google to appear and type in what they need. As portal services (like Symbaloo) gain traction people will be less inclined to use Google to navigate the web.
What are the alternatives to Google?
A third example are the vertical search engines. You can use Google to search for words but it is more logical to use a dedicated dictionary search engine like Answers.com and a car search engine like UsedCars.com. The vertical search engines are becoming more popular every day and more verticals appear left and right.
Can you think of more ways to get to information without using Google? WikiPedia is a good alternative to Google is you are looking for specific information. What other alternatives are there?