This post has been updated.
We believe Kara Swisher of the All Things Digital blog was first to pick up on Google's official announcement: Chrome is real. Earlier today Swisher also had the first confirmation from sources that the launch of the browser was imminent. It's not an elaborate hoax. It's a bona fide product and it will be available for download Tuesday. We'll have a hands-on review as soon as we get some time to explore the product.
So why the mystery? Human error, it appears. According to the official Google blog, "At Google, we have a saying: 'launch early and iterate.' While this approach is usually limited to our engineers, it apparently applies to our mailroom as well! As you may have read in the blogosphere, we hit 'send' a bit early on a comic book introducing our new open-source browser..."
Our previous coverage: Google 'starting from scratch' with own browser, Chrome.
Here's the full announcement, from the Google blog: