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It could be to make the results less intimidating. Sometimes when I query something Google will report "12,533,562" or whatever insane number of results. I don't want to look through that many pages, even if I could and I give up after a page or two. But if the SE truncated the list to, say, 250 now I'm thinking "well, that's a lot, but I can probably find something good there."
Yes, I know I should reform my query if I get too many results, but how many people (really) know how to use a search engine well?