Google earnings soar in 2012 but Motorola Mobility still lagging

Google Glass
Hiiigh fiiive!

Cut through the investor speak and the message is clear: Google made mega bucks in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Racking in $14.42 billion in revenue, Google exits 2012 having hit $50 billion in total annual revenue for the first time . Yearly revenue jumped 36 percent compared to 2011, while quarterly net income hit $2.89 billion.

That figure doesn't even include Motorola Home, which Google sold off for around $2.35 billion in cash and stock, a deal expected to close this year. With Home, Google could have counted $15.2 billion in revenue.

There is one glaring black eye: Motorola Mobility. Though the division racked up $1.51 billion in revenue ($2.3 billion had Home been included), it amounted to $353 million in general accepted accounting principle (GAAP) losses. In non-GAAP numbers, Motorola lost $152 million.

Despite the loss - a drop in the bucket, really - the Google team on the investor call remained optimistic about Motorola's possibilities.

"We are pleased with velocity of change at Motorola, but we are still at the beginning of Google/Motorola story," said Patrick Pichette, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Google. "It will be variable for a while as we continue to restructure the business."

Looking ahead

Though they had a slurry of figures to cover, CEO Larry Page, Pichette and Nikesh Arora, senior vice president and chief business officer did touch on the (more) fun stuff during their presentation.

When it comes to Google mobile development, Page noted a user's phone shouldn't go "splat" when dropped. Battery life is a major issue and users shouldn't have to worry about charging their phones, he said, providing a glimpse at the structural priorities Google is likely to implement moving forward.

He also touched on the supply issues plaguing the Nexus devices, most famously demonstrated by the phantasmal Nexus 4.

"Clearly there is work to be done managing our supply better as well as building a great customer experience, and that is a priority for our teams," he said.

Page talked often about more intuitive search and seemed in awe of Voice Search and its practical applications in situations like running out of gas in a car - "sadly, a car you still have to drive" - and using the feature to get to the nearest fuel pump.

Mo' money, mo' problems

Arora noted YouTube's redesign has led to increased user engagement. Gangnam Style amassed $8 million in advertising revenue, a sign that video site is a moneymaker. What's more, Arora said users watch 4 billion hours of YouTube a month.

When asked about monetizing Google Maps, Page said that Google is in the early stages of making cartographic cash.

"We're doing some interesting things there," he said. "Maps will likely be a great source of revenue, but it's still in the early stages."

Though not asked about it outright, Page brought up Graph Search, Facebook's new in-home search feature.

He didn't attack it or defend Google's services against it, merely stating how search is a core part of Google's business with "tremendous opportunity to make better products for users that really understands their needs."

The conversation, though wide reaching, more often than not led back to Motorola. Pichette made the message clear that Motorola isn't a hobby for the company.

"We do care about profitability, and that is our goal in all the areas we invest," he said. "We're not in the business of losing money with Motorola."

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.