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Google to investors: Don’t worry, we’ve got mobile figured out

Google launches new wireless service Project Fi.
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Google launches new wireless service Project Fi.

The theme of Google's first quarter earnings call today was not the European charges looming over its head, nor the futuristic venture looming in its horizon. It was mobile.

Specifically, analysts wanted to know how Google planned to squeeze profits from handheld devices, where, the data has shown, rivals have supplanted some of Google's digital dominance.

Google spent the better part of the call arguing that it can. "So many commentators are incorrectly assuming that the growth trends in our sites, clicks and CPCs (cost-per-clicks) are primarily due to difficulties monetizing search on mobile," CFO Patrick Pichette said on the call. "But that's, in fact, not the case."

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Some of those assumptions come from misreading the numbers, Pichette added. He made a point of clarifying that the rapid growth of YouTube's video ads had suppressed the growth in its central ad metric. Google telegraphed this message a bit, releasing laudatory numbers on YouTube's mobile viewership before earnings. On the call, Google also touted the potential of its recent changes to mobile search and its business selling smartphone ads based on location.

It did not put a number behind that potential; Google does not break down its sales by device. Yesterday, its rival Facebook reported that it earns 70 percent of its ad revenue on mobile.

The clearest indication that mobile is a priority for Google's business, Pichette claimed, is that it's not just an obsession for Google's business people. "If you talked to every product manager at Google and leader at Google," he said, "they have [mobile] at the forefront of their thoughts."

Wall Street seemed to accept that logic. When after-hours trading finished, Google's stock was up 3.16 percent.

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