I wrote this to appear elsewhere, however it was not ready so I'm just posting it here instead.
Well, it certainly seems Google is no longer satisfied with simply living inside your web browser.
No, Google wants a more serious relationship with you than that.
Sure, they've virtually led the pack as far as Web 2.0 and application-driven websites (Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, etc), but now they want to also BE your web browser.
Its all explained in this nifty comic-book style write up, quite effectively I might add.
The concept is quite simple: Google has been trying to play nicely within the limitations of current web browsers, so why not just invent your own that runs your applications smoother?
Flash back to the mobile industry for a moment. If you recall, Google has always focused on being mobile-web friendly, offering special versions of their Gmail, Google Maps and search engine pages optimized for mobile web browsers or WAP. However, since mobile web browsers are so severely limited in features, Google decided to break free of the browser and write stand-alone applications for Google Maps and Gmail that run on compatible phones.
However, since not all phones offer the same features or APIs, the Google applications differed slightly from device to device (some devices don't support satellite imagery, others support voice-recognition for search).
So, Google took the next bold step and challenged the entire mobile industry by creating its own entire mobile Operating System, Android, instead of conforming to what is already out there.
That makes many people such as myself wonder- how far will Google go with this on the desktop? They've already created a Google Earth downloadable as well some other apps to break free of the confines of the web browser. Now, they have their own browser.
Many conspiracy theories emerged years ago that Google is planning its own desktop OS to rival Microsoft and Apple. This has mostly been dismissed as rumor long ago, however that was before Android and Chrome were announced. This could change things.
If Android had never become a reality, I would have said that Google doesn't have the gall to attack the desktop market. But Android is already a big slap in the face to popular Smartphone platforms like Windows Mobile, Palm, Symbian, Linux Mobile, and Apple, all of whom Google has actually written applications for in the past. The announcement of Android left these folks in a state of denail and/or confusion... If I were them, my thoughts would be "but I thought we were friends?"
The desktop market COULD be next.
The interesting thing about all this is that I think this marks the first time that the desktop industry can look to the mobile industry for a possible taste of things to come. Chrome team consulted with the Android team about their use of the Open Web Kit system when designing the engine for their browser. If Chrome and Android hit off with the success that they have potentially, I'd say a Google OS is around the corner.
Google. First you lived in my webbrowser. Tomorrow, you may own the world. Lookout...