What would it take for me to stop using Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)?

That's the question I was asking myself this morning after reading through articles from Red Herring and Business Week. Google has shown that search is big business, and No. 2 Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), along with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IACI), want a bigger piece.

When it comes to regular Google users like me (I hear there are a lot of us), the question for the rest of these companies is: How are they going to lure us away to their search engines? While Google doesn't have the same kind of stickiness that, say, Microsoft does in desktop software, I think snagging Google users could be just as tough.

Google garnered so much popularity to begin with by realizing that Web search is a hammer. You don't need your hammer to look really pretty or have all sorts of bells and whistles. You just need it to be darn good at hammering in nails. So while all the other search providers were worrying about how to make the hammer's handle look pretty, or put strobe lights on the head, Google was focusing on making sure that its hammer was really good at pounding in nails.

Now, over the past few years, Google has made itself stickier by offering other services such as email and blogging, but these were built on a similar principle -- functionality.

Being good students of their rival's success, the other search engines' recent redesigns have looked a heck of a lot like Google's. That's probably a good start, but hardly enough to get users to give any of them a try, let alone switch for good. After all, most people won't spontaneously decide that, although their current hammer is in perfect working order, they're going to head to Home Depot and pick up a brand-new one just for a change.  

So for those chasing Google, the challenge is to either figure out how to sell people on a new hammer, or else come up with an entirely new, and more effective, tool for the job.

Stop the search, here's your related Foolishness:

Yahoo! is a Stock Advisor recommendation and Microsoft and Home Depot are Inside Value picks. To nail down companies with investing potential, grab a free 30-day trial of either newsletter.  

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can visit Matt on the Motley Fool CAPS service here, or check out his blog here. The Fool's disclosure policy is nicknamed "the hammer" because it does not suffer fools lightly.