Penguin, with all its good intentions ensures -
1. SERPs are getting more resistant to any hint of manipulation
2. Only sites that gain links naturally are rewarded. In other words, sites that command authority, visible offline and online and are brands.
3. Sites grow organically and with time, not before their time
4. It is Branding, PR, Advertising and Promotion that is the new SEO, not SEO by itself. A great product/service may or may not really count, unless that product is in a less competitive niche.
5. Size matters - A monster of a portal that stocks 101 product range will hold an upper hand as against a single-product niche site. Economies of scale.
6. The bigger and popular a site grows or a brand is, chances of it being white-listed is more, making that site rank perpetually and immune to SEO mistakes and competitor sabotage.
All this is fine and helps ensure Google is not a battlefield of SEO manipulations. But how does the other side of the coin look like?
Are you seeing more of the same sites that didn't need a Google to know about or could we well have used just a site search? Are we able to unearth smaller but interesting ecommerce sites from where we can buy stuff that you don't see in every second household?
Could we have an Authority Filter just as we have an Adult Filter?