Google parent Alphabet talked up its strength in areas including mobile and artifical intlligence (AI), as it reported a strong start to 2017.
In its core Google operation, revenue for Google’s own sites was up 21 per cent year-on-year to $17.4 billion, and “the biggest contributor to growth again this quarter was mobile search”.
During a conference call, Alphabet finance chief Ruth Porat said while this reflected a general shift to mobile, it is “obviously also benefiting from our focus on continuously enhancing features and functionality”.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of the Google business, said he is “really happy with how we are transitioning to an AI-first company”.
Its Google Assistant product moved further into the smartphone (it is being rolled out to “hundreds of millions” of Android Nougat and Marshmallow devices), the wrist through Android Wear 2.0, and will come to Android TV.
The company is also working with new integration partners to add new features.
Pichai also reflected on how Google Assistant is impacting its core search business, noting queries become “more casual, more conversational” as a result.
He said Google introduced a new technique for training deep neural networks on mobile devices called Federated Learning. This enables users to run a shared machine learning model while keeping underlying data stored on phones.
Porat highlighted its Google Play proposition, which “benefited from both broad-based app strength but also from all the work we have done in areas such as direct carrier billing, which helps more people globally access and buy their favorite apps and games”.
Pichai referenced Google’s recent settlement with the Russian authorities over its Android practices in the country, stating there were “some specific issues”, and while other regulators are looking at its work, “I’m not sure that’s the right template”.
On a group level, net income of $5.4 billion was up 29 per cent year-on-year, on revenue of $24.8 billion, up 22.2 per cent.
A loss in the “other bets” category increased to $855 million from $774 million, on revenue of $244 million, up from $165 million.