Note: this article is very out of date. I was hoping that there would be some kind of clear next step for the OS that I could use to revise this article, but instead I post it as a kind of hope for the future.
ChromeOS is an entire operating system that's purely a web browser. There are some problems with this but one advantage is finally escaping vendor lock-in with your computer. Purely web-driven technologies will allow developers to make software that immediately runs on 90% of computers, as well as allow both software and platform developers to compete with each other.
This contrasts when Microsoft locks users into their model and Apple increasingly locks people into theirs. Vendor lock-in was the problem with the recent Google's Books program: you could only buy their books (which they frequently didn't own) from them. Its bad because makes it possible for the both recent Apple vulnerabilities and the long, long list of unpatched IE 6 problems over time. When there's no competition, you kick back and relax. I can see management saying: "What are the customers going to do -- go somewhere else?"
Hoping that companies effectively create standards and then nurture them is counter to the nature of business. Yet standards are necessary and good because they provide a consistent user experience and make people use computers faster and easier. Its open standards that allow people to go elsewhere when someone abuses their market position. The hope behind ChromeOS and/or the Successful Linux OS is making some better standards than Linux has had so far, while still keeping them open.
Anytime you buy a car, you buy whoever gives you the best deal. Vendor loyalty is your decision and it should be the same in hardware and software.