Google and Microsoft speak volumes with silence

The following charts show Google and Microsoft revenues and operating income:

Both companies showed healthy growth. Revenues: Microsoft 6%, Google 24%. Operating Income: Microsoft 12%, Google 48%. Google had a particularly weak margin Q1 2011 so its income growth appears very strong.

The surprise in Microsoft’s performance was the 4.8% increase in Windows revenue at a time when PC sales were expected to be declining or flat. Final PC numbers are not yet out so we’ll have to check back on this figure to see whether Microsoft has been able to get higher pricing for Windows or whether the market did expand. (Average revenues per PC sold have been quite steady for years). Overall, Microsoft’s business shows consistency. Of course, that should not be cause for comfort. Nokia had remarkable consistency until it jumped from a burning platform and RIM grew more rapidly until its platform imploded.

As Google still obtains 96% of its income from advertising, it’s quite remarkable that it is now at 61% of Microsoft’s revenues. Google is also growing more rapidly than Microsoft so the possibility exists that the top ad service will overtake the top software company in revenue, establishing a new benchmark for how software can be monetized.

The curious thing about both of these companies’ financial performance is that mobility does not appear to have had any impact on either top or bottom lines[1].  There is no business division or income statement line that can be attached to mobile revenues. Microsoft placed Windows Phone under Entertainment and Devices but that division is dominated by Xbox and accessories. Google bundles everything under Advertising and has never broken out mobile, much less Android-derived income.

The surge in valuation for mobile-focused startups seems to leave investors in both these companies unaffected. The damnation for both companies lies in mobility being non-core businesses whose strategies center on reaction and defense.


  1. Google does not answer specific questions about the impact of mobile on their business but they do acknowledge that there are traffic acquisition costs (TAC) associated with OEMs and Carriers who deploy Android. This means that there are costs of mobile sales (i.e. Search) but not to any measure of specific value.