Better page titles in search results by de-duplicating boilerplate anchors: We look at a number of signals when generating a page’s title. One signal is the anchor text in links pointing to the page. We found that boilerplate links with duplicated anchor text are not as relevant, so we are putting less emphasis on these. The result is more relevant titles that are specific to the page’s content.
I've been seeing an ever increasing number of pages recently with "augmented titles", as I call them. I'll venture a guess that this signals eventual reduced reliance on title elements, most likely evolving as Google tests user satisfaction with the changes it makes. That said, I suspect the title will remain a strong signal for a while.
PS: The reduced reliance on boilerplate anchor text is also to be watched if it's a ranking factor as well as a title factor.