Google calls local services 'hugely important' to mobile future

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Calling local services "hugely important" to the future of the mobile user experience, Google product SVP Jonathan Rosenberg said Thursday the digital services giant anticipates location-based services will more deeply integrate with mobile advertising and commerce services in the "not too distant future." Google reported Q4 2009 revenues of $6.67 billion, a 17 percent year-over-year increase--the company's mobile outlook was the subject of much discussion in the earnings call that followed the report. Asked how local services tie into Google's mobile vision, Rosenberg touted the possibilities of location-based ads and commerce: "In mobile we are seeing that when phone numbers and coupons are offered people are much more likely to click on the mobile ad. Well, imagine if [a store's] inventory information is there so they can actually consummate a transaction locally. As that information becomes available, local is going to be much, much more powerful."

According to Rosenberg, advertisers including AT&T (rival Apple's exclusive U.S. iPhone operator partner) are already using some of Google's local products to help consumers identify local retailers. "I think we are just starting to get there in terms of capabilities that are going to be necessary for local to take off," Rosenberg said. "But I think local is going to matter much more on these devices, because obviously, they know where they are with GPS."

Google's mobile strategy as a whole is predicated on "building and accelerating an ecosystem," according to CFO Patrick Pichette. "Consumers that have Android devices, we know from our own research they use it 30 times more than what a typical handset would be," Pichette said. "In consequence they do a lot more searching and there are a lot more advertising opportunities. So pushing that ecosystem is so critical because that is where the world is going... It is huge for the users, but it is also huge for us."

For more on Google's mobile perspective:
- read Seeking Alpha's Q4 earnings call transcript

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