I've seen a few people state recently that one persons loss is another's gain. For instance your small e-commerce site is hurting at the expense of Amazon.
Personally I'm not convinced. Just for claritys sake: a zero sum game is an environment where assets are just passed between players. Futures and options markets are a zero sum game. Taxes and public spending are a zero sum game (you are just redistributing wealth). I don't really see that search is a zero sum game, primarily because there are nearly always alternative choices / strategies.
For instance, I'm searching for some help with coding perl, and Google fails to return me any good results. One alternative here is I just suck it up and work it out myself. This has two losers; I lost because of the extra time involved, and the person who owns the perl tutorial site also lost my visit.
Another example is travel. I'm looking for a weekend break destination on a tight budget. There may be many deals on the internet within my budget - but if they fall outside Google's results I may fail to find them and just decide not to go on holiday at all.
I don't see search (especially broken search) as a zero sum game. What do you think?