The other search engines should just give up and declare Google the winner. Yahoo, Microsoft, Ask, and the thousands of search utilities on the Internet should direct traffic to Google because it's clearly the best search engine.
Yahoo should proceed with outsourcing search advertising to Google. Since Google will be the only search engine for nearly all searchers, Microsoft can dissolve its search efforts and the other search sites should just follow suit.
Competition Forces Innovation
If NASA had more competition, we'd have vacation homes on Mars, instead of celebrating landing unmanned robots on the planet's surface. Remember the space race? The former Soviet Union and United States battled for supremacy in space and each country made magnificent strides forward in a short period of time.
In a few years, we might be looking back on the search war years as the time we all saw amazing innovation in how the world accessed information. In the absence of competition, innovation will slow, but the upside will include preferred parking for expecting mothers, since we'll all be working for Google.
Mars is 44 million miles away, and it wasn't too long ago that we thought visiting the red planet (in any capacity) unimaginable. Right around the time we started launching probes, one search engine was created to help find a better way to index the Web's billions of pages.
Technology and Advertising
Technologists innovate and create; advertisers merely exploit the Web's resources. The cold search war lies in the ongoing battle of perspectives and motives between those who build and those who monetize.
Of course, the builders would have a lot less money to build without the money makers, but that doesn't seem to matter. Much in the same way, logic, reason, and compassion didn't matter during the real Cold War years.
Technical proponents for Yahoo giving up on search monetization and Microsoft just giving up altogether seem to lack the DNA necessary to process the need for generating revenue.
Neither technologists nor marketers understand the inherent benefit of maintaining a world where technology and marketing are constantly at odds with one another.
The two competing worlds of dollars and sense have been keeping themselves in check while keeping the rest of us from becoming a group of penniless (but really creative) Web developers.
It's Not Over Yet
Advertisers love competition because (arguably) costs will be driven down. In the single search environment that already exists in many countries around the world, search advertising costs are set by one entity.
Maybe we shouldn't count the key competitors out just yet. Microsoft's CashBack Live is more creative execution than innovation, but it shows promise. Other ways of bribing Web visitors have only achieved marginal success, but in a sputtering economy, Americans just might warm to making money on purchases this time around.
In addition to Microsoft's continuing efforts to capitalize on search, Yahoo's method of answering the unending question of low search volume in the form of social constructs and Yahoo Shortcuts by increasing search activity driven by editorial content.
I'm not suggesting that one company dominating (or employing) the search industry can't innovate. I'm saying we'll all be disappointed in the results the absence of balance will yield.
The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start - to help you master being found on search engines. Early Bird rates available through Sept 12. Register today!