I don't think Google has a problem with affiliate sites, as long as they are offering a genuine user experience
I think they do. It's more income for them and talking about subject A or product B in 100 different ways soon isn't going to add value. So I guess I'm agreeing in a round about way.
Suprisingly, this is a double edged sword - if you eliminate the competition you eliminate the need to have a search engine. The technology is getting simpler to build.
Just imagine if all the airlines, or banking systems got together again to build their own distribution systems outside of the search engines. They can see their margins under pressure as well.
These groups were ahead of their time in the late 60's building massive internal process' to introduce some of the first global systems. All the data is there's anyway, and they have the capacity to build competing systems easily enough it's pretty much there.
I think the pressure will come back from the principal industry groupings and deals will be done with middlemen again. But if you're an unsophisticated affiliate it will be very difficult to survive. But to keep on track with the thread - is Panda a smoke screen - for a bigger agenda - absolutely.