I think Google is facing a SELF-DEFEATING reality that as they serve people with better results, they erode the perception of their brand in peoples eyes.
There is clearly an incongruity between what people "THINK" they want from a search engine( and how they perceive Google) versus, what they "REALLY WANT" from a search engine.
Conflicting priorities are always a struggle, but this is an especially interesting one. One side has a DATA supported reality that can't be disputed about what searchers want and what puts bread on the table.
On the other side is the more important, but less quantifiable reality that their BRAND is what brings searches back to the site, not the quality of the results, but the perception of GOOGLE and SEARCH being synonymous. This brand value is clearly getting diluted by delivering better results, and could in the long run be their demise.
I think the unfortunate endgame here is legislation that will require what people think they want (e.g. privacy, absolute control) at the expense of some things they actually want (e.g. frictionless social interaction, simplicity).
(To forestall some argument: Yes, I realize that privacy/social interaction and control/simplicity are not always mutually exclusive. However, there are cases where they interfere with each other, which requires compromise.)
It's a mediocre service now. Became big with search, became worthless for searches for me. I cannot search anymore, I can play games with software that tries to second guess my intentions.
Google is assuming that when people search, they want answers, but maybe what they really want is to SEARCH for answers.