As someone who comes to web search with a librarian/researcher perspective, I've long known and understood the value of specialized (aka vertical) search tools. In the last year it seems many other web searchers are beginning to realize that while large general web engines are essential, specialized/focused search tools can also provide quality answers in a shorter amount of time while also allowing the to do more with the data. The "buzz" that verticals are are receiving is very evident in Lisa DiCarlo's article on Forbes.com. She calls Answers.com the best Internet innovation in years." The Forbes article is also proof of what a high quality service, a name change, and some buzz can do. As many of you know, Answers.com has been around since 1999. It was first known as GuruNet, then Atomica, and then back to GuruNet before renaming the public site, Answers.com.
Call it whatever name you like, Answers.com has long been a very useful service that I even paid for when it was subscription-based. I'm very happy to see this vertical search provider and other verticals beginning to get the attention and more importantly the users they deserve. I've often used Walt Mossberg's 2003 review of the Answers.com (at that time known as GuruNet) in training sessions since it does a great job of not only explaining what this service provides but also what other specialized search tools can offer versus a general purpose tool.
Finally, I'll use this opportunity to remind you again that it's very likely you have access to many high quality, fee-based vertical search tools for free without even having to leave your house. This SearchDay article explains.