Google is coy on mobile, says CEO Page ‘lost his voice’

Written on:July 19, 2012
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Google offered few details about search advertising on cell phones even while noting that 400 million people are now using mobile devices that use its Android software. Meanwhile, Google’s CEO was unable to speak about the topic at all as another executive said that “Larry [Page] has lost his voice.”

Those were some of the highlights of a conference call that followed Google’s second quarter results in which it reported earnings that were slightly better than what analysts had predicted.

Analysts on the call pressed Google to provide details about an ongoing decline in the amount of money it collects when someone clicks on its ads, and whether this drop relates to the fact that a growing number of people are searching on mobile devices rather than on computers.

Google executives said the falling click prices, which dropped 1 percent from last quarter and 16 percent from a year ago, could be explained in part by foreign exchange rates. In particular, the company pointed to a swoon in Europe’s currencies which translated to lower US dollar revenue for Google.

The company would not disclose, however, the percentage difference between what it charges for a traditional computer ad versus ads on a smartphone or a tablet. Executives would only say that Google has more than 1 million advertisers purchasing mobile ads (in some cases as a bundle).

In response to a question about whether the mobile searches were “incremental or cannibalistic,” VP Susan Wojcicki said the searches were largely incremental since many took place on the weekends and other times when people are on the move. She downplayed the role of tablets displacing computers, saying that both phones and tablets are “on the go” products.

In response to a question about the state of CEO Larry Page’s health, an executive said “Larry has lost his voice and can’t do any public speaking .. but he continues to run the company.” Page has missed several Google events in recent weeks. Early reports have said he has laryngitis.

The company also discussed its evolving YouTube business. See: Thousands of YouTube partners now make six figures a year

Other highlights from the call include:

  • In response to a question about Google’s fanciful, high-profile projects like driverless cars and Google Glass, an executive said such moonshots were not consuming any more capital or management focus than usual
  • While the previous quarter marked its full official integration of Motorola Mobility, Google said it was too soon to report on its specific plans for the phone maker
  • Google is maintaining its large cash reserve, in part to “pounce” on potential acquisitions and to ensure it can stay competitive for talent
  • 1 million people are activating Android devices every day and there are 400 million in use around the world
  • The company is working to bring more music and other content onto its Nexus 7 tablet and into the Google Play store
  • The company now has 250 million accounts for Google+ which it describes as the “social spine for all our products”

Image by Yuri Arcurs via Shutterstock

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