Google shares marched upward on Thursday as earnings figures showed the Internet search titan remains a cash machine even as lifestyles shift to mobile gadgets.
“It is really about living with the user — supporting users across all the day whether on a TV, mobile phone, desktop, wearable [computers],” Google chief business officer Nikesh Arora said during an earnings call.
“That is really the aim we are shooting for,” Arora said.
Google reported that profit in the closing quarter of last year climbed to US$3.38 billion on rising ad revenue from around the world.
“We ended 2013 with another great quarter of momentum and growth,” Google chief Larry Page said in the earnings release.
The company’s shares rose more than 4 percent in after-market trades to US$1,183, having closed the day up 2.57 percent to US$1,135.39 on word of its deal to sell smartphone maker Motorola Mobility to China-based computer titan Lenovo (聯想).
Google has agreed to sell Motorola to Lenovo for US$2.91 billion, after a lackluster two-year effort to turn around the smartphone maker it bought for US$12.5 billion.
Google revenue from sales of apps, books and other digital content at its Play store for Android devices jumped, but the California-based company still made the bulk of its money from search-related advertising.
Revenue from “click” ads was up nearly a third from the same quarter the previous year despite the average price paid by marketers ebbing due to a shift to lower-cost mobile ads.
“It is great that Google has figured out how to increase mobile ad revenues with traditional advertising imitating what they do on the Web, but the real potential of mobile is yet to come,” Forrester analyst Frank Gillett said. “It is going to take years to master mobile. This is only the tip of the iceberg.”
The analyst pictured mobile ads evolving into a form of “advice” from virtual assistants that understand what a person might be in the mood for and what nearby establishments have to sate those desires.
Chief financial officer Patrick Pichette promised that Google will keep its feet in the consumer electronics hardware business after completing the sale of Motorola to Lenovo.
Google executives also boasted of “great momentum” for its flagship Nexus 5 smartphones and Chromebook computers during the year-end holiday shopping season.
Google this month announced the purchase of smart thermostat start-up Nest in a deal valued at US$3.2 billion. The big-ticket buy adds smartphone-synched thermostats to its Nexus mobile devices, Chromecast, and the promise of releasing Google Glass eyewear some time this year.
“We continue to be committed to hardware that is on new frontiers,” Pichette said. “That is what we continue to be focused on.”
He portrayed the Motorola sale as strengthening the Android mobile device “ecosystem,” of which Google would remain an “impartial supporter.”