I can remember the time before Google became so popular. There were few search engines that were not very good but dominating internet searches. Those were AltaVista, Lycos, Remarq, and Yahoo. Most of you wouldn't remember any of the search engines other then possibly Yahoo which is still standing against Google as one of it’s major but lagging competitor. When internet itself was fairly new, I even remember reading a book on how to use internet of which basically covered how to use Yahoo search engines!
If you want to read bit more on old search engines, I have found an article Dead Search Engines by Greg R. Notess covering some of these stories on this topic alone. Please do visit and indulge yourselves.
Like those old competitors who have perished within a short period of time after the introduction of Google, for all we know, Google can perish also. There is no such thing as forever dominance in any business models. Provided how fast the information travel after introduction of internet which gave rise to growth of Google, it can also work against itself when the new niche online search engine which can do better job then Google does.
There had been many startups which invest themselves in search engines. I have found two which looks very promising, hakia beta and Mahalo Alpha.
The hakia beta concentrate and distinguish itself with their new search algorithm accounted for their own search methods. You can read in more detail from their site but here are quotes on their technologies:
Different than a familiar R&D agenda in a search engine company, we undertook highly specific research tasks solely dedicated to the advancement of the core-competency in Web search. The main challenge is to make science work in a constrained deployment environment where speed, coverage, accuracy, and ease-of-use are high priority considerations.
Ontological Semantics (OntoSem) is a formal and comprehensive linguistic theory of meaning in natural language. As such, it bears significantly on philosophy of language, mathematical logic, and cognitive science... read more. Also available on this Web site is an interactive system to show how the words are analyzed.
Query Detection and Extraction (QDEX) system was invented to bypass the limitations of the inverted index approach when dealing with semantically rich data... read more. We have an interactive system to demonstrate QDEX operation for authorized users. You can request access to test this system, or Login using your access code.
SemanticRank algorithm of hakia deploys a collection of methods to score and rank paragraphs that are retrieved from the QDEX system for a given query. The process includes query analysis, best sentence analysis, and other pertinent operations...read more.
One of the research activities in hakia-Lab is the conversational (dialogue) systems where the search engine communicates with the user in an elevated level of confidence. More advanced forms of this function will be launched in the near future... read more. You can request access to test this system, or Login using your access code.
Mahalo Alpha meaning thank you in Hawaiian, concentrate on "human-powered search engine. It’s a fresh new concept which does not seem possible. However, they are building what seems more focused rather then being generic. I am not sure how they are planning to incorporate the fast growing internet itself. We’ll see their on-going progress. Quote from their site is available here:
Mahalo is the world’s first human-powered search engine powered by an enthusiastic and energetic group of Guides. Our Guides spend their days searching, filtering out spam, and hand-crafting the best search results possible. If they haven’t yet built a search result, you can request that search result. You can also suggest links for any of our search results.
Mahalo. We’re here to help.