There was a point a few years ago where Sun could have had the next generation UNIX filesystem. It was in Solaris (and people were excited), there was a port to MacOS X (that was quite exciting for people) and there was a couple of ways to run it on linux (and people were excited). So… instead of the fractured landscape of ext3, HFS+ and (the various variations of) UFS we could have had one file system that was common between all of the commonly used UNIX-like variants. Think of being able to use a file system on a removable drive that isn’t FAT and being able to take it from machine to machine (well… Windows would be a problem, but it always is).
There was some really great work done in OpenSolaris with integration between the file manager and ZFS snapshots (a slider bar to browse the history of a directory, an idea I’ve championed for over a decade now, although the Sun implementation was likely completely independently developed). The integration with the package manager was also completely awesome, crash safe upgrades!
However, all this is pretty much moot. Solaris is used by fewer people than ever, it’s out of OS X and BTRFS is going to take the place that ZFS could have held in the Linux world. So, unfortunately, ZFS is essentially dead. This is a shame…. it could have been something huge.