Google (NSDQ: GOOG) co-founder Larry Page, who just completed his first quarter as the company’s CEO, touted the fast growth of Google+, the company’s new social offering: in two weeks, 10 million users have shared over 1 billion items. The goal of the service, he told investors and analysts on the company’s Q2 earnings call, is to make online sharing more like “real life” sharing. Making up for last quarter’s misstep, when Page ditched the call after brief remarks, he stuck around for the Q&A, and even posted his notes to his Google+ account.
“In real life, we share different things with different people,” Page said, in a not-so-subtle dig at rival Facebook, which has notoriously complex controls for sharing content with different groups.
Page also said that over 550,000 phones are activated every day using the company’s Android mobile operating system. There are over 400 Android devices on 231 mobile carriers in 123 countries, he said.
Page recalled the day when “people thought we were crazy–they said there was no money to be made in search over and above a bit of banner advertising.”
“Fast forward to today — it feels like we are watching the same movie again in slow motion,” he said. “We have tremendous new businesses being viewed as ‘crazy.’”
“I understand the need to balance the short term with the longer term needs because our revenues and growth serve as the engine that funds our innovation,” Page said. “But our emerging high usage products can generate huge new businesses for Google in the long run, just like search.”
Page said Google’s products fall into three groups.
– Search and our advertising products, which he described as “the core driver of revenue for the company.”
– Products that are enjoying “high consumer success,” such as YouTube, Android and Chrome. “We are investing in these in order to optimize their long-term success,” he said.
– New products like Google+, Commerce and Local. “We are are investing in them to drive innovation and adoption,” he said.
The new CEO brushed aside a question about the company’s intellectual property position. (Google was recently outbid by a consortium of rivals for Nortel’s patent portfolio.)
“Despite the efforts of some of our competitors there hasn’t been any slowdown in Android,” he said cryptically. “We want to support that ecosystem in a cost-effective manner.”
Google’s VP for product, Susan Wojcicki, said the company is working to improve the quality of its ads to make them more appealing to users. She also said the company aims to make display ads easier to buy and sell and is working on local advertising solutions from company’s ranging from Starbucks (NSDQ: SBUX) to “Joe’s Coffee Shop.”
Page made no apologies for Google’s aggressive hiring, though he acknowledged that the company may be “a little ahead of where we need to be in headcount growth.” And he downplayed concerns that the company experimenting is too many far-flung areas, like its driverless car initiative, which he called a “small speculative” product: “We’re very careful stewards of shareholder money. We’re not betting the farm on this stuff.”
Asked by an analyst how Google’s senior management views the company’s stock price, which is down ten percent this year, Page responded in characteristically aloof fashion.
“We have lot of stuff to do here at Google, and one of the things we don’t get to do is decide our stock price,” Page said. “You all are in charge of that.”