For me, there is something subtle and extremely powerful that comes with Chrome. It fields a combination of features with very powerful implications. A "whole being more that the sum of the parts" kind of situation.
The second feature that's important in Chrome is process isolation for tabs. This enables each tab to be completely isolated from other processes. One tab going down doesn't take the whole browser with it (which is something that has plagued my Firefox quite a bit).
Thirdly, we have "application-like" OS integration in Chrome. Chrome has the ability to make a single tab look like an application window, with normal window decorations:
In your taskbar it looks like an application, there is quick lauch icon for you app:
There's also a Start Menu item (not shown) and a Desktop icon:
The combination of these three is a significant step towards blurring the lines between the desktop and the web. Chrome is an application platform with (potentially) desktop-like application performance (DHTML + V8), process isolation (a key feaure of an application platform) and the web apps look like desktop apps (Operating system integration). And it's all standards based.
There have been some rumours of a Google OS...
You're looking at it.