Chrome OS and The Luxury of Time
In the throes of building my second startup, I'm acutely aware of one thing: time. Google doesn't need to have a runaway success with ChromeOS (or Android for that matter) right out of the gate. They're playing the long game, to quote a certain famous hockey player, skating to where the puck will be. They have the luxury of huge amounts of revenue and cash to be patient, to play the long game. If you have the patience to allow a product to find its market fit, you can allow it to organically find its niche.
I have one theory about where ChromeOS may be going. If you look at the capabilities of ChromeOS, it's easy to dismiss them because of the lack of flexibility and native applications (especially games). There is one customer, however, that pops into my head that would love a tightly controlled, stateless, web client that could be centrally managed: the enterprise. I can easily imagine Google offering a hosted or even customer hosted version of this for corporations, not unlike hosted Google Apps. The savings in IT infrastructure (virus software, support, etc...) could be HUGE and very attractive to big companies. It would be a very interesting puzzle piece to put together with their google applications to drive potentially huge revenue from big companies.
Thats just one theory, but I don't think we should be too quick to pan Chrome OS just yet. Truth is, no one really know where it's going to fit into the computing landscape. Unlike most companies, Google has the luxury of time.