What if Google has decided that search engines will not be as valuable as a social graph and have decided to prioritize Google+? In that case, strategies that help Google+ grow and get better at the cost of Google’s search engine would make sense. Crazy like a fox perhaps.
The question that Google should be asking is: Are people going to be using search engines in 10 years? Blind devotion to their original search product forever is stupid. They need to keep their eyes open and be prepared to pivot if necessary. Look at RIM with their keyboard based smartphones. RIM hands down makes the best keyboards in the business, so they have a lock on the market of people who demand great keyboards in their smartphones (also the BBM thing). For a while they were king of the hill, but now that market is tiny compared to the market for people who want full touch smartphones and great web/app environments. RIM stayed true to their original product vision and as a result they missed the boat.
The strategy should be dictated by the expected future value of the social graph of Google+ vs. Google’s search engine.