Speaking with analysts last week Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave mobile a resounding endorsement as a successful part of the search giant’s business mix. Simon Kearney reports.
Google’s 2009 results were out last week but analysts only really wanted to know one thing, how was the company doing with mobile.
Good it seems. CEO Eric Schmidt spoke glowingly of the prospects for more revenue from mobile, how the Nexus One was going to redefine mobile phone handset retailing and how mobile search had increased five-fold over the last two years.
“For lots of reasons 2010 will be a year of significant mobile revenue growth for the whole industry and I’m sure Google will play a major part of that,” Schmidt said.
CFO Patrick Pichette said Google was making money through mobile search and growing the business by driving people to search by using mobile applications. “Obviously the more people spend their time on it then they trigger into search and then monetization occurs. That’s the core engine of the mobile model,” he said.
Google’s senior vice president for product development, Jonathon Rosenberg, said Google was hoping to make the mobile Internet better than the PC Internet and were having early success with mobile advertising. “We’re starting to see much improved monetisation in general across mobile,” he said. He added, without hint of irony, that mobile advertisers were beginning to understand the segment, and had learned that their results improved when they included a phone number people could call.
“Putting the phone numbers in mobile ads is making a difference.”
He added that Google had developed technology that would allow advertisers to target specific devices on specific networks.
Schmidt did sound one note of caution: that the growth rate in the mobile business will depend on the competitive dynamics of the industry. “We have a lot of evidence that people are moving to these data-friendly devices very, very quickly,” he said. But he added that their ad-funded mobile applications and admob businesses were yet to show how successful they would be.
On the Nexus One he said Google was trying to establish a new online phone retail market. “There’s a lot of confusion about that,” he said. “It’s probably easiest to understand in the following way. What the Nexus One is really about is a new way of buying a phone.”
“The Nexus One is simply the first of a series of examples where you can essentially purchase a phone online from one or multiple manufacturers … and have it just work. We think that’s a natural evolution of a particular model. It does not exclude the other models, I think it’s compatible with them. I think that that retail model will continue to be quite successful. So far our partners have understood that message and they’ve been okay with that”
On Apple he said Google’s relationship with the hardware and design business was stable with partnerships in some areas and competition in others. He pointed to the company’s impending launch of its tablet computer and other products. “They’ve got a lot of very good stuff coming,” he said.
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