Wilburforce - 4:44 pm on Jan 4, 2013 (gmt 0)
The problem isn't the cost of alternatives to Google organic ("free") listings: it is that the general public use organic listings as their primary method of finding products, services and information. Twenty years ago I had hundreds of enquiries a year from paper Yellow Pages (paid) listings. Last year I had one.
Google earned their virtual monopoly on "free" information by being the best search engine, and by keeping results free from commercial interest.
They will lose it if people cannot find what they are looking for easily in the results, or if a strong commercial interest becomes too apparent. At that point we can all start optimising our sites for whatever replaces Google.
The idea that they don't owe anybody anything isn't shared by a growing number of regulatory bodies worldwide, but I accept the principle that nobody is owed an organic listing on page 1.