Apple likes being a premium company: the culture at Apple promotes this, the quality of their products reinforces it, and Steve Jobs believes that great products can demand a greater cost to consumers in exchange for a usable, valuable experience.
The Chrome OS announcement didn’t even make me flinch; the target demographic, cheap little netbooks, isn’t something that Apple’s likely to go into. I do, however, think they will have a tablet that will likely be around the sub-$1000 range and targeted toward a higher income person.
Google’s OS won’t have any impact on Apple—they are in two different markets, selling two distinct kinds of beasts—but will carve a hole in Microsoft:
As for Chrome OS and OS X themselves, I wouldn’t waste too much time thinking about it. While it will take several years for this all to play out, this is a direct attack by Google on Microsoft’s core. It’s perhaps the most bold move in a series of battles currently raging between the two (Android vs. Windows Mobile, Bing vs. Google Search, Google Docs vs. Office, etc). This is all about Microsoft, and not about Apple. And I don’t think Apple is losing any sleep at night over Google attacking what is also its rival.
Both OSes can still dominate in their own unique niches. There’s little, if any, overlap in the two. In the process, Microsoft will get pummeled by both parties on different fronts. Google and Apple are essentially attacking Microsoft’s precious cash-cow, the un-ending Windows monopoly, at the same time. Remember: an enemy of my enemy is a friend of mine.