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Google 'uniquely positioned' for move to mobile internet

Cites $8bn in mobile, content and apps revenues

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Google might have lost billions in stock valuation owing to a printer's mistake early on Thursday morning, but CEO Larry Page was in optimistic mood at the company's scheduled quarterly earning call.

"We've had a really strong quarter and I'm really happy with our business," he told analysts. "Google's been operating for 14 years and we've just cleared our first $14bn quarter – not bad for a teenager."

Despite a drop in income, revenues for the year were up 45 per cent, and the company said that but for currency fluctuations that figure would have been 6 per cent higher. The general weakness of the US dollar hit Google hard this quarter and the company had to spend significantly to hedge for this.

But it was mobile where Page said Google was "uniquely positioned" to succeed. Internet use is going from single screen to multiple screens, he explained, with mobile being the immediate way forward.

Last year Google reported its run rate from mobile advertising was $2.5bn, but this year that figure has risen to $8bn, he said. Admittedly, this new figure includes the revenues from selling content and applications on Google Play, but mobile ad revenues make up the vast bulk of that figure.

When Google launched Android, Page said, he'd been warned that the company was "nuts," but there are now half a billion handsets carrying the OS and 1.3 million new activations a day. This gives Google a real stake in the mobile market, he said, particularly when married to Chrome.

In February Google launched Chrome for Android, with full synchronization to the desktop browser. Page acknowledged the number of Chrome users was limited at the moment (it requires the Ice Cream Sandwich build to run) but he promised use would spread. Presumably this will come from handset replacements rather than porting Chrome to earlier Android versions, but we shall see.

To bring in more revenue, Google is working on an integrated advertising platform that will run on the desktop, mobile and TV. Nikesh Arora, chief business officer, said that advertisers would be able to concentrate on honing their message while Google worked out how to port it for different platforms.

With desktop and the mobile side of things progressing well, Page said that TV would be the next stage. The Google Fiber rollout was going well and Google was planning to kickstart resurgence in US internet speeds and cut prices with its program. YouTube is also going to be central to this.

"YouTube transitioned for me a year ago into something I can watch for hours and be entertained," Page said. "Usage is growing like crazy and that's going to lead to even more monetization."

Page said Google+ was now up to 400 million users (although how many of those are active remains a mystery) and said the company was focused on going forward. In the last year it has dropped 60 products and features and is concentrating on making what's left work together in the best way possible. ®

Bootnote

On Wednesday Larry Page made his first public speaking appearance since June and this was his first earnings call for six months. The line is that he lost his voice for unspecified reasons and he certainly sounded very hoarse on the earnings call.

A gentleman's health is his own concern, but Steve Jobs' passing has focused the mind of many on CEO health issues. El Reg hopes he recovers soon.

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