Forget about the SOAP vs. REST debate for a second, since most of the world doesn’t care. Google’s search API let you send a search query to Google from your web site’s backend, get the results, then do anything you want with them: show them on your web page, mash them up with data from other sites, etc. The replacement, Google AJAX API, forces you to hand over part of your web page to Google so that Google can display the search box and show the results the way they want (with a few token user configuration options), just as people do with Google AdSense ads or YouTube videos. Other than screen scraping, like in the bad old days, there’s no way for you to process the search results programmatically — you just have to let Google display them as a black box (so to speak) somewhere on your page.
I worry too. What do you think? Is Google killing its SOAP API for business, rather than technical reasons? And will others follow?