Page Ducks Out Of Call Fast; Analysts Drill Other Google Execs On Big Increase In Expenses

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) CEO Larry Page made some quick — and very general — remarks on Google’s quarterly earnings call Thursday, saying the company’s results demonstrated the strength of its business and adding there were still “tremendous improvements to be had” for the company’s core products. It was Page’s first appearance on a Google earnings call since taking over as Google CEO from Eric Schmidt. He left the call after only a few minutes, however, and left analysts’ many questions on the company’s big increase in quarterly expenses to CFO Patrick Pichette and two SVPs.

Analysts repeatedly asked those executives whether the company’s higher level of spending during the quarter — operating expenses were up 54 percent year-over-year — was permanent. In response, they said the company would not be slowing down its marketing spending, especially on Chrome, which they described as being “key.” As for hiring costs, they said the impact was especially noticeable this quarter, because of the company’s across-the-board 10 percent wage increase which into effect at the start of the year.

Pichette said the company’s financial “discipline” had not changed and that instead Google was “just really bullish on our prospects.” He added: “I guarantee you that everybody that has a cost center has to demonstrate cost productivity.”

Other highlights:

Management reorganization: During his remarks, Page referred to Google’s recent management shakeup and said the changes had happened “exactly as we planned.” He said the goal of the moves was to simplify the company’s organizational structure and improve its “velocity of execution.”

YouTube: Asked about the state of the company’s video site, which reportedly is investing as much as $100 million on an original programming push, SVP Jeff Huber confirmed that YouTube was interested in “long form premium content” and also pointed to its recent purchase of webisode maker Next New Networks as being reflective of areas the site wanted to emphasize.

Mobile: Huber said more than 350,000 Android devices a day are being activated and referred to the smartphone as being “an extension of the person” that would play a role in an increasing number of human behaviors. Executives also disclosed that more than three billion Android apps had been installed. Pichette said the company had essentially “tripped” into making its mobile operations a billion-dollar business, which was why Google was so bullish about its future.