After a quick search of the internet, it seems that opinions vary on the redesign, but personally this strikes me as a step backward. The old icon looked polished and professional, while the new one just looks flat and faded. Overall, it looks to me a bit like something a middle school student might throw together.
But here's what Google has to say about this redesign:
Since Chrome is all about making your web experience as easy and clutter-free as possible, we refreshed the Chrome icon to better represent these sentiments. A simpler icon embodies the Chrome spirit — to make the web quicker, lighter, and easier for all.
A lovely sentiment, to be sure, but I just don't think they hit the nail on the head with this redesign -- simplification and clutter reduction doesn't need to look this bland. In the future, I hope they end up tweaking the icon in a way that sticks to their stated principles while also providing something a bit more aesthetically appealing.
How likely is this to happen? I'm not sure, but it brings to mind another example of how Google hasn't always gotten its redesign right on the first shot. Google's favicon took a few attempts to get right, as the following image demonstrates:
(Image credit: Search Engine Land.) If I'm not mistaken, the favicon on the far left was around for quite a while before 2007; in 2008, they replaced it with a bland and over-simplified blue g. Less than a year later, they came out with the current favicon, which kept the g while also beautifully capturing Google's iconic colors, and which they've kept around ever since.
Even though Google is generally known for its barebones aesthetic, I appreciate the effort they put into these little design-y things, and hopefully they'll eventually get it right with the Chrome icon.