As early as 2004 (and most likely even earlier!), continuing onward in 2006, people where hailing the death of search engines. Some see social/web 2.0 technologies as decreasing the importance of search engines. Metatags are dead! proclaims another.
Yet, here we are in 2007, with google set to take on the mobile world, with its new platform, Android.
Like all technology, I would be very surprised if the google search engine does not change significantly in the next 10 years in some way. If not, it's probably toast. I am glad that most of the big search engines now allow searching of images. I am sorry that writerly died when google bought it, but I love googledocs. I liked yahoo photos, but I love flickr. I hope yahoo does not ruin that one.
So, the search engine sites have been evolving, new products, new functionality, etc.
I am very glad to see that over the past few years the big search engines have cracked down on spammers, spam seo, and shady seo search tactics. I am a little sad that the metadata part of websites has taken a hit for it. Metadata should be one of the most important tools to both a user and a bot, but given the overuse and misuse of metadata, it's suffering a very sad fate.
Hopefully, metadata standards will continue to evolve, as google and others realize the importance of controlled vocabulary. Tagging can be very helpful and great fun, too, but if tags do not represent recognizable terminology of a particular field, then I can't see that they will be very useful in the long run.
I do think that the intro homepage on the 'net might change to more aggregated sorts of sites like pageflakes. If you can embed your feeds, search engine, email login, and other things, why WOULD you start with a search engine?
People need a way to find information and although discovery and serendipity are good for some things (love to see what my del.icio.us network is finding), that's not how I find things when I need to find a particular thing. If I want to know what my php error message means, I paste it directly into google. Amazing that I find a usable answer within in a few minutes.
I personally think that federated searching is going to become the bigger issue -- and it's about time! Doing research is a very frustrating process. One search for everything. I hope that is where the library world is heading with VuFind and Primo -- one search which retrieves print books, e-books, fulltext articles, websites, blog posts, images, podcasts, video, whatever....
Yahoo's alpha is a pretty cool little nexgen browser.