Things were further complicated by Google's recent agreement to sell a part of the Motorola Mobility division that makes cable TV boxes. That division is now accounted for as a discontinued operation whose revenue wasn't booked in the latest quarter, even though it will remain a part of Google until the $2.35 billion sale is completed later this year.
Under that equation, revenue surged 36 percent from the previous year to $14.4 billion.
After subtracting advertising expenses, Google's revenue totaled $11.3 billion. That figure was well below the average analyst estimate of $12.1 billion, according to FactSet.
But many of the analyst forecasts included revenue from Motorola Mobility's set-top division, which Google excluded from its breakdown. Had the set-top division been included in Google's accounting, the company's net revenue would have matched analyst estimates.
The performance lifted Google's stock by $34.14, or 4.9 percent, to $737.01 in Tuesday's extended trading.
Google has been able to offset the slump in its search advertising prices by selling more video advertising on its YouTube subsidiary and other more graphical forms of marketing. The number of clicks on Google ads has still been rising, too. That's important because the company typically gets paid by the click. In the fourth quarter, Google's total ad clicks rose 24 percent from the previous year.
To gain a foothold in the mobile market, Google bakes its services into its Android software, an operating system that it gives away to makers of smartphones and tablets.
Android is now powers more than 500 million mobile devices worldwide, giving it a wide lead over Apple's software for iPhones and iPads. Through September, Apple had shipped about 370 million iPhones and iPads. Apple Inc., which has morphed from a Google ally to bigger rival in the past five years, is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter results after the stock market closes Wednesday.
Although he didn't provide an update on how many Android devices were activated in the latest quarter, Google CEO Larry Page repeatedly emphasized his belief that his company is bound to benefit as the mobile market expands and technology comes up with new ways for advertisers to reach potential customers at the times they are most likely to buy something.
“I am excited about the business and today's multi-screen world,'' Page told analysts during a Tuesday conference call. "The opportunities are endless.''
Google would be doing even better if not for problems at Motorola Mobility, a cellphone pioneer that