Google slows but looks to future

Google's core search business is under threat. But not to worry, its executives told shareholders on Thursday. It has its eye on a future with computers that talk to users, drive our cars and send information before we ask for it.

Google's core search business is under threat. But not to worry, its executives told shareholders on Thursday. It has its eye on a future with computers that talk to users, drive our cars and send information before we ask for it.

Investors living in the here and now had mixed feelings about Google's first-quarter results, which it reported on Thursday, sending Google's share price up 2 per cent in after-hours trading. Its earnings exceeded expectations, but only because of a tax credit from the government for research and development.

Net income in the first quarter rose 16 per cent to $US3.35 billion, and revenue was 31 per cent higher at $US13.97 billion.

The results showed that, whatever the threats, its search business is still strong, even as desktop search and advertising slow as people rapidly shift to mobile devices, where Google struggles to make as much money.

Google is throwing itself into cutting-edge businesses, such as spectacles that connect to the internet. Larry Page, Google's chief executive, spoke about how important these projects were to the company.

"As CEO, it's also super important to keep focused on the future," Mr Page said. "Companies can tend to get comfortable doing what they've always done, with a few minor tweaks. It's only natural to want to work on things you know, but incremental improvement is guaranteed to make you obsolete over time, especially in tech."

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