A member at Search Engine Watch forums started a new thread named Cloaking, load of BS?, where he asks, "Does anyone come across cloaked sites in the SERPs anymore, 'cos I don't seem to." The question is, is there a future for cloaking in the search engine optimization world?
What makes this thread fun is that we have fantomaster, the king of cloaking, chime in and then GoogleGuy, who absolutely hates cloaking, discuss the concept as well. So far, everything is very professionally discussed.
Fantomaster says, "demand [for advanced cloaking products] has been on a steep rise and if current figures are anything to go by, we for our part expect to double our cloaking products and services related revenue this year."
Fantomaster explains that the reason the original thread creator, glengara, doesn't see the cloaked results is because, as rcjordan said, "the big dogs -good & bad- are using high-grade cloaking as much or more than ever." Basically, the cloaking tactics practices by the top experts are extremely hard to recognize by the end user. Fantomaster continues by saying; "sure, you may have a hunch perhaps, but it will never be more than guesswork."
Mikkel, who has been around forever, like fantomaster said:
Cloaking is definitely still around - I know for a fact. The main reasons my clients chose cloaking is because they are either too lazy or restricted to change their own site and work, because they want to target keyword variations or misspellings they are not allowed to have on the website, or because the entire site is graphic or multimedia based.
Back on topic of if cloaking is a growing or declining business. GoogleGuy posts that it is declining based on his observations. He said; "In my experience there's fewer cloaked domains in SERPs these days. It's not completely gone though; there are still some sites that cloak, especially when the owner views the domain as disposable."
It is possible that there are less novice cloakers out there, so both fantomaster (Mikkel as well) and GoogleGuy can both be right. There has never been a published paper on the number of cloaked sites in the search engines as of today, compared to 5 years ago. I am sure the number is higher, but on percentages of number of sites on the Internet compared to cloaked sites, it might be lower. Again, we simply do not know. Maybe Gary Price can locate a paper on this topic, with actual figures and data? :)