Whitey - 8:16 am on Feb 15, 2013 (gmt 0)
It probably helps to build the reasoning and PR behind G+ and other future enhancements built on Google assets that will lock in users on both sides of the equation.
Google wants to know who you are, so that it can market to you, and better verify the services and content business' produce on their SERP's. It also wants to lock in relationships to lock out future competition from other big players.
This engagement trend has been building for many years now. But it must be top of Google's mind for Eric Schmidt to be spruiking [dictionary.reference.com...] these types of stories.