An interesting blog post that I'm sure will resonate with a few people here.
I am 100% agreed with the the author that spammers are to blame for a lot of what most people don't like about the current version of Google but if you've ever done any SEO or set up a site purely to generate Adsense revenue, or in any way tried to force rankings etc etc, count yourself amongst them. The rest is down to how much we think Google pushes it's own products and how you feel about that.
As for the focus on Branding, I think it makes sense. Most search users, particularity when looking for products or services, are not going to prefer to see 'mom and pop' type websites, they want big brands. I lose out in that, I'm not a big brand, but I don't disagree with the logic.
Why Don't You Love Us Anymore Google?