While it doesn't give the end user any control over their service, it's at least a troubleshooting tool that lets someone know if the problem is on their end or lies in Google's hands. It also might provide some reassurance to users that the company is looking into any downed service situation. Google itself has stated it is being developed because they see a need for a higher level of communication, and a live status page is one way to do it.
The status page gives current status along with several days of backtracking, along with detailed status information during outages. The recent Gmail outage, for instance, can be viewed and shows a timeline of when the problem began and when it was fixed. You can take a look at the status page yourself here.