In an interesting response to Kevin Fox's question about the updated "new tab" button, Chrome's Peter Kasting said that "good design involves hav[ing] a clear and consistent vision for the product which is then informed by user input, not enslaved to it. I think Chrome as a whole shows a remarkable design consistency and focus that Google products as a whole have not always had. I don't think that's an accident. It's a direct result of a process that uses a small group of consistent leaders, rather than endless end-user trials of everything, to make decisions."
Glen Murphy, Chrome's design lead, makes it more obvious: "We're trying to sculpt Chrome down to the perfect browser, and sometimes that means making painful consistency changes in aid of that long-term vision. While we want to minimize disruption for existing users, most people on earth haven't used Chrome, and we have to make the best and most awesome browser possible for them."
Chrome is the browser that has great default options, few settings and an interface that hasn't changed all that much over the years because it was carefully thought out and reduced to the essence. Just like the iPhone and its OS.