Google Sitemaps now has more features on top of showing crawl stats and crawl errors:
- PageRank distribution (high, medium, low, not yet assigned)
- top 5 Google search queries for getting clicks to your site
- top 5 Google queries returning your site in search results
Seems like that is just a tease at giving information (and if you want real stats you have to use Google Analytics to give them more info back), but here is the Sitemaps stats FAQ page.
I don't think Google really needs or wants the site owner sitemap data so much, I just think they want to be the default service people use in case it is useful down the road. That is why they are throwing in the few extra "goodies". Storing data costs Google next to nothing.
Most likely Google is the default search tool, advertising tool, email tool, analytics tool and free information storage database for a large number of people now.
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