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Google: $1B from mobile ... and counting

Fri, 10/15/2010 - 8:00am
Monica Alleven, Wireless Week

Maybe it was an early Halloween treat. Regardless, Google executives yesterday gave out some rare tidbits during their third-quarter conference call, saying people who are accessing Google products and services through their mobile phones are adding $1 billion annually to the company's existing revenue streams.

Google doesn't usually reveal much about the numbers in its emerging businesses, but executives made an exception to give analysts some better insights and confidence about where the company is investing. Jonathan Rosenberg, senior vice president of product management, said mobile search queries rose five times in the past couple years, and, of course, a lot more of those are coming from Android devices.

The company overall had billions of reasons to be pleased with its third-quarter results, including $7.29 billion in revenues, an increase of 23 percent compared with the same period last year. Net income in the third quarter of 2010 was $2.17 billion.

CEO Eric Schmidt was on hand during the conference call. When asked about the impact of people getting their applications direct from vendors and the long-term implications of that on Google's business model, he said that doesn't seem to be making an impact. It's one of those "worrywart" questions around the success of one thing impinging on the success of something else when, in fact, a rising tide lifts all boats. All the companies driving Web apps are doing really well, and people are moving from offline to online and using search more, he said.

The phenomenal success of Android is far more than even he had hoped for, he said, and even though it's based on an open model, which means the code is essentially given away, there's a lot of innovation, more competition and 90,000 apps on the Android Market. People who use Android devices search twice as much, he said.

Executives also said search is more important than ever on the Web. Rosenberg said Google doesn't see cannibalization in terms of mobile taking away from desktop searches. He said people use mobile at lunch, in the evenings, on weekends and holidays, and both mobile and desktop Web search traffic are growing and complementary.

The last public number Google gave for Android phone activations was 200,000 a day, and CFO Patrick Pichette said the company is sticking with that figure for now.

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