When Google released its Q4 earnings on Thursday, all eyes were on Motorola’s performance; the search giant had announced Wednesday that it is selling Motorola’s cell-phone business for close to $3 billion to Lenovo, ending an adventure that cost the company another $384 million last quarter.
But while the sale of Motorola may give the impression that Google is going back to its roots by only making money with ads, it’s worth noting that the company saw some of its fastest revenue growth outside of its traditional ad business. Non-ad revenue, which includes both app and media sales as well as sales of hardware products like Chromecast, grew 99 percent in 2013.
During Q4 of 2013, Google generated $1.65 billion of non-ad revenue, compared to $829 million in Q4 of 2012. Revenue from this segment now makes up for 10 percent of Google’s overall revenue, compared to six percent in Q4 of 2012.
Google’s Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora said that the growth in Q4 was largely due to hardware sales, and gave a special shout-out to one product: “One of the things that has done really well for us is Chromecast.” Google’s CFO Patrick Pichette added that the Nexus 5 had a substantial impact as well.
Chances are, that the company will be able to point to additional hardware product having an impact on those numbers soon: Google acquired smart thermostat and smoke detector maker Nest earlier this month, and Pichette said Thursday that the goal of the acquisition was “to help them scale.”
Arora added that Google also sees potential in other emerging hardware areas, including wearables. “We are continue to be committed to hardware,” he said.
Google’s core business, including ads, apps and hardware sales, saw $15.7 billion in revenue during Q4 of 2013, compared to 12.9 billion in Q4 of 2012. Motorola’s business generated $1.24 billion in revenue in Q4 of 2013, compared to $1.51 billion in Q4 of 2012. The company’s GAAP operating income was $3.92 billion last quarter, compared to $3.39 billion during Q4 of 2012. This resulted in $9.90 GAAP earnings per share, compared to $8.62 a year ago.