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Google's earning call offers 5 hints on the future

Ian Paul | Jan. 24, 2013
Future products from Motorola was just one of the topics discussed during the earnings call.

The quarterly corporate earnings period has rolled around, and it's time once again to listen in on analysts' calls with companies such as Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, and Samsung for clues about the future of some of the world's tech giants. The season opened with Intel's financial statements last Thursday, and Apple's earnings announcement is expected Wednesday. Tuesday was reserved for the world's most popular search/smartphone OS/driverless car company, Google.

What did Google's fourth-quarter earnings call offer beyond the company's reported $14.42 billion in revenues for the most recent three-month period? Hints about when to expect Google to really get into overdrive with Motorola; the future of Android as an infotainment system; Google's importance as a predictor of U.S. Senate elections; and the future of Google, not as a search provider, but a knowledge company.

Motorola isn't influenced by Google, yet

Have you wondered why Google hasn't come out with a blockbuster phone from Motorola Mobility yet despite buying the Android smartphone maker for $12.5 billion in 2011? Here's your answer: "We inherited a 12- to 18-month product pipeline that we're still working through," CFO Patrick Pichette said during Google's earnings call Tuesday. In other words, Google is rolling out Motorola devices that were in development before the search giant took over the company. Given that Google took control of Motorola a little over six months ago, we may be waiting for Google-influenced Motorola handsets until at least late 2013 or early 2014.

High hopes for YouTube

YouTube fans watched more than 4 billion hours of video per month during 2012, Google's chief business officer, Nikesh Arora, said during the call. Google has high hopes for YouTube's future thanks to the site's recent redesign that focuses on "channels" or single YouTube accounts instead of single videos. The hope is that viewers will come back for more from their favorite YouTube content creators. "YouTube is well positioned for the changing viewing habits of today's multi-screen world," Arora said.

Arora didn't hesitate to give the company credit for the popularity of the song Gangnam Style, the most-watched video in YouTube history, by Korean pop sensation PSY. Arora also suggested that YouTube played a big part in lining PSY's pockets with Gangnam Style dollars. "Outside estimates say that...Gangnam Style, now the most-watched YouTube video of all time, it generated over $8 million in all-in advertising deals," Arora said. Given the casual, and somewhat rambling nature of Arora's statement, it's not clear if he was saying that PSY and his team made more than $8 million from YouTube, as many other outlets are reporting, or if YouTube revenues were part of an overall estimated $8 million earnings for the song.


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