Re: Don't let the Gummint get involved
...the incumbent can beat all the upstarts...It's a vicious cycle.
The incumbent always looks unassailable, but remember when Google was the upstart? Part of their allure was that they weren’t AltaVista and they played up to being the new boy with their “Don’t be evil” catchphrase (I think they must have been unable to remove the “don’t” from the wall when the moved offices and just put up what they brought with them to the new office). They key is to have a different approach and good marketing.
Sir Runcible Spoon (further down the comments) mentions the idea of using different algorithms for search - a 'backstreet' search engine. With Machine learning being so democratised now, any group of computer science grads (with the nous to hire a competent marketing team) could pull that off.
To challenge Google, they just have to have the courage not to sell out to Google when they get noticed by them.