Anyone who reads this blog knows I enjoy dabbling in some rampant speculation. But the idea of a Google OS is one that I don't buy. Google has the most powerful advertising platform on the planet and they've managed to do all of this by building on top of the web. Google doesn't need an OS because they've already got a formidable web platform which they can tie back to advertising. Google cut its teeth in advertising with search. Search gave Google the power to determine intent on the user and then give them instant feedback. Looking for wholesale pockey? BAM, a paid listing right there that lets you buy them. You can't do that if you aren't connected which is one reason a Google OS seems out of whack.
Google has invested a tremendous amount of brainpower and money into web applications. They’ve gone out and bought what they couldn't build in house and focused the strategy on providing applications that people can use while they are online (and can jump to new, more lucrative pages). By finally combining some of these, as they have with Google Apps for your domain and Google Docs, they're jumping deeper into the software as a service world, but that's not reason to believe that they are working on an operating system. Google thinks the operating system is irrelevant.
This is one of the reasons I'm so excited about Google and Rich Internet Applications. They showed how Flash and Ajax can work together with Google Finance and they paid $1.65 billion for YouTube, which uses Flash for video (as does their own Google Video). Now I realize that using Flash video isn't necessarily an endorsement of Rich Internet Applications, but for a rich interactive experience, there isn't much of a choice. Google is an advertising company, and as their advertisers demand more, they'll get more interactive. They did it with the DaVinci Code promotion.
Google is using the Web as an operating system, and more companies are going to follow. As that happens, and as demand for better web experiences grows, we'll see an even greater explosion of Rich Internet Applications. Besides, with technologies like Apollo on the horizon, Google doesn't need to worry about an operating system.