It is possible that some users spend 2% of their time on search and 98% of their time on sites. However, the users would probably never get to the web sites without the search. When search is working right, it is the most targeted form of marketing and is very effective.
What is the alternative? We know that banner advertising is typically not targeted very well and is only minimally effective. People rarely click on banner ads because they are tired of being taken to sites that do not have what they want. Most users have mentally blocked out banner ads.
What is missing in the article is a viable alternative. If the author does not think that search is effective, what does he think works better? If he thinks it is banner ads, I would have to disagree. They are less targeted and less likely to get clicked on by someone who actually wants to buy that product.
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin