Okay, it's not that easy, but Google is no longer working hard to maintain its leadership. It is now so crappy that it is easier than ever to create better alternatives.
One needs way too many clicks to reach popular content. When I type radio station name, Google will only link to station's website rather than offering direct audio stream link.
General topic search is full of spam. It is gamed way too easily with clever SEO. The content offered is popular rather than authoritative. Google happily links to content that is burried in ads, split over several pages, or covered by popups.
Complex queries are not supported at all. Google is nowhere near Watson's data mining capabilities. Google is a primitive unordered keyword search. Specific facts have to be extracted manually from long lists of links.
Conversation with the user is absent except for the primitive related searches and spellchecking. Any good expert will first make sure he knows what you are looking for before offering you any answers.
Another issue is speed. Using Google to get any information takes ages. Linked content is usually ridiculously slow to load. Once it loads, it is obscured with loads of trivia and ads.
Google already has the content in its cache. So why not serve it from there? From user's point of view, search engine is a gateway to the Internet. It is responsible for optimizing access times to the linked content.
Part of the problem is greed. Inefficient search financially benefits Google. People will click through more AdSense-loaded websites and they will perform more ad-loaded searches. It doesn't make economical sense for Google to make its search better.
Users are sold to advertisers too cheaply. Many businesses would find it more efficient to pay content creators rather than seeing employees waste time sifting through shallow content manually, constantly distracted by ads. Google's business offerings are ridiculously expensive.
Google doesn't support paid content in reasonable ways. The links to paid content are either broken or missing completely. If shown, they are shown repeatedly in all future searches even though users have previously ignored the offer to buy the content.
Sure Google has some fancy technology ready in case some viable competitor shows up. But Google's dependency on advertising revenue will make it hesitate long enough for challenger to grow large enough to be profitable.
Interestingly, Google might be even willing to provide access to its servers for competing companies, because it's a way for Google to get into progressive search market without losing its current ad-based revenue.
Specialized search engines are out. People wouldn't waste time by making the extra step to use specialized search. General search is the future. Get an investor to pay for servers & developers. Don't waste time by trying to specialize in some niche search.
Looking around, there's currently no better alternative to Google. Perhaps because Bing likes the advertising revenue just as much as Google does. Or maybe they just gave up. Let me know if you know of anything that's better than Google.