The mobile industry was a big theme during Google’s quarterly earnings conference call with analysts Thursday. As Google disclosed in its first-quarter earnings release this afternoon, one of the big questions hanging over its mobile strategy is whether its acquisition of mobile advertising AdMob will be blocked by the government due to antitrust concerns.
One of the analysts on the call asked if Google has a Plan B for getting into mobile ads if the deal gets blocked. Both Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette (pictured) and Susan Wojcicki, the vice president for advertising product management, argued that the deal should go through, because the mobile advertising market is still too early and undeveloped for one company to take control and lock out the competition. Google is “very positive” that the deal will happen, Pichette said.
“We see this as a very new and nascent market, it’s less than two years old,” Wojcicki said. “There’s a lot of competition in this market.”
They also echoed chief executive Eric Schmidt’s comments earlier this week that the mobile ad market is clearly still competitive because Apple also announced its own product last week. As far as a Plan B, Wojcicki added that Google is its still investing in its existing product for advertising in mobile applications.
Pichette also answered questions about Google’s decision to pull out of China and try to deliver uncensored search results via Hong Kong. An analyst asked whether that’s a something Google can sustain in the long term, but Pichette said Google still has “all the opportunities that we want” in China, because it can still sell ads that will be seen by the Chinese audience.
“What we’ve really done is we’ve stopped censoring, but the access to Google is still available for all the people [in China],” he said.
Another analyst followed up by wondering if the reason that Schmidt wasn’t on the call was because he had, as rumored, disagreed with cofounder Sergey Brin about pulling out of China. Pichette said that absolutely wasn’t the case — Schmidt wasn’t on the call because that seemed to be a more efficient way to focus on the financials, he said.
Earlier in the call, he’d explained Schmidt’s absence by saying, “Eric’s everywhere.” As Google’s spellchecker might ask, “Did you mean nowhere?”
People: Eric Schmidt, Patrick Pichette