Google: Patent attacks on Android are not 'effective'

Larry Page has downplayed the growing legal assault on Google's mobile operating system, while announcing a 33-percent rise in revenue and a 26-percent increase in profits for the company
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Rivals' patent-related attacks on Android are not paying off, Google's chief executive Larry Page has claimed, as the company reported big rises in revenue and profit.

Larry Page

Google boss Larry Page has said rivals' patent-related attacks on Android will not pay off, as he announced the company's third-quarter results. Photo credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET News

On Thursday, Page said Android is "going gangbusters" and Google does not "see anything that's going to stop that". Companies suing Android manufacturers over use of the mobile operating system will only hurt themselves by doing so, he added.

"While there's been lots of people trying to attack that and so on, we see absolutely no signs that that's effective, and ultimately, we think that other companies' actions there will alienate their customers and their relationships with the other companies," Page said in an earnings call.

Google's strategy is getting stronger regarding patent lawsuits, and its proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility shows it is "serious about protecting the Android ecosystem", he said.

Page's comments come as Apple's global patent and design-related legal campaign against Samsung is yielding dividends. As a result of the iPhone maker's court actions, Samsung is banned from selling its Android-based Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Australia and Germany .

Although those bans are only temporary injunctions and the full legal cases have yet to be resolved, the time it takes to argue a case and the fast-paced nature of the tablet market mean the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is most likely scuppered in those countries.

While there's been lots of people trying to attack [Android] and so on, we see absolutely no signs that that's effective.
– Larry Page, Google

Microsoft has also been successful in extracting licensing fees from HTC and Samsung over their use of Android, which Microsoft says infringes on its patents.

Asked about those fees, Page said Microsoft is "resorting to legal measures to hassle their own customers", which "seems kind of odd". Samsung and HTC make handsets that run Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.

Page said he suspects Android manufacturers are "making good deals for themselves" in their licensing agreements with Microsoft, although he conceded that he — like most people — has not seen the details of those agreements.

Google third-quarter results

The Google chief was filling in the background for the company's third-quarter results, which showed a 33-percent year-on-year increase in revenue and a 26-percent boost in profits. The markets responded by taking Google's share price up 7.7 percent on Thursday's Nasdaq trading.

The web giant took in $9.72bn (£6.16bn) for the quarter ending 30 September, up from $7.29bn in the same period in 2010. $1.05bn of that revenue came from the UK alone. Quarterly profits were $2.73bn, up from $2.17bn the year before.

More than a quarter of Google's quarterly revenue — $2.5bn — came from its mobile business. While Google gives Android away to manufacturers, the rapid growth of Android's share of the smartphone OS market is a major factor in driving users to Google's lucrative mobile search and advertising facilities.

According to Google's chief financial officer, Patrick Pichette, many advertisers have greatly increased the size and frequency of their mobile campaigns, as mobile is becoming a "must-have".

Page noted a "mind-boggling" 190 million Android devices have now been activated around the world.

"Generally, I found that high-usage products will make a lot of money over time for well-managed technology companies, and that's why it's so important to run these businesses for the long term," Page said.

However, he refused to break down the $2.5bn of quarterly mobile revenue into income from mobile search and display advertising.

Google+ take-up 

During the call, Page provided new take-up figures for the company's mobile-leaning Google+. The social network opened its doors to the public in September after a closed trial that began in June.

"I now want to announce that we passed the 40 million user mark on Google+. People are flocking into Google+ at an incredible rate, and we're just getting started," he said, while stressing that it is "still incredibly early days" for the network.

The company ultimately wants to use Google+ to transform the entire "Google experience" into something "magical, because we understand what you want and can deliver it instantly", he added.

"This means baking identity and sharing into all of our products, so that we build a real relationship with our users. Sharing on the web will be like sharing in real life across all your stuff. You'll have better, more relevant search results and ads," Page said.

The Google co-founder also noted that Chrome, the company's web browser, now has over 200 million users and is still growing fast. Indeed, Chrome now has a 16.2 percent share of the global browser market, according to figures released this month by Net Applications.

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