I am a big fan of usage data as an SEO and marketing mechanism (especially because usage data leads to editorial citations if the site is linkworthy), but I doubt usage data alone will fully replace linkage data anytime soon. Why? The web is but a small fraction of overall advertising market. With search companies controlling so little offline media you would doubt that they would want to let ads outside of their network have control over their relevancy, wouldn't you?
Why does Matt Cutts frequently obfuscate the policies on buying and selling links outside of AdWords? Because abusing links undermines Google's relevancy and Google does not get a cut of the action.
Google's current results are heavily biased toward informational resources. If Google was heavily reliant on usage data it would commercially bias their organic search results and make their paid ads seem less appealing.
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