LG announces first Google-powered Chromebase desktop PC

LG Chromebase
Image caption LG's Chromebase has much less internal storage than the PCs it resembles

LG has announced the first all-in-one PC to be powered by Google's Chrome operating system.

Until now the Linux-based OS has only come pre-installed on laptops or boxes that required a separate monitor.

Chrome-based computers tend to be cheaper than comparable Windows-powered rivals in part because Google does not charge manufacturers to include its software.

However, they run a more limited range of applications.

Popular products including Skype, Powerpoint, Photoshop and iTunes are all unavailable.

However, Google promotes a range of free and paid web-based alternatives that can be run through Chrome OS's browser.

Rocketing sales

The popularity of what LG is calling "the first-ever Chromebase" may depend on its price.

The 21.5in (55cm) 1080p full-HD screened model resembles Apple's iMacs, HP's Spectre One range and Dell's Inspiron One family, which cost £700 or more.

However, it only has 16 gigabytes of storage - a relatively low amount - as it is Google's intention that users store much of their work in the cloud. This should help cut costs.

But the South Korean firm is holding back the suggested price of its machine until at least January, when it will be formally launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Samsung has already had success selling Chrome OS laptops, which have have dominated the two-year old ecosystem.

Image caption Samsung has had most success selling PCs running Google's Chrome operating system

In a report covering the July-to-September quarter, the market research firm IDC said other vendors - including Acer, HP and Google itself - only represented a "tiny volume" of sales.

Samsung's success has helped Chrome OS machines represent rare growth in the PC market, which has lost sales to smartphones and tablets.

IDC said ChromeOS devices had experienced 1,542% growth over the previous year, which compared with a 12% decline in the notebook and laptop market and a 10% fall in the PC sector as a whole.

The research firm notes that with 697,000 units sold in the third quarter, Chrome OS still represented a tiny fraction of the market.

Even so, a tech analyst from another firm said Microsoft still had cause for concern.

"It will still be worried about Chrome OS as a competitor to Windows because it was previously caught out by the resurgence that Apple saw with its Mac OS," said Chris Green, from Davies Murphy Group.

"Chrome OS also helps promote Google's own services, which consumers will then continue to use on Android or other smart devices instead of Microsoft's.

"Looking at the new device, while I think the desktop market is in terminal decline, consumers are still buying all-in-one units as hub devices that they can use for everything from ordering groceries to watching movies. And that's a space LG wants to be in."

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