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Going Mobile

Stocks in this article: GOOG MSFT AAPL FB

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It seems only right that a company whose mission is to make information available to all would release each draft of its earnings report to the public throughout the writing process.

And so it was that Google's (GOOG) third-quarter earnings results became available on the Security and Exchange Commission's Web site hours earlier than planned on Thursday after someone apparently hit the button by mistake.

The screw-up produced breathless consternation from the earnings brigade on Wall Street, but it only hastened the inevitable as shares of the Internet search giant plunged at the realization that mobile advertising isn't living up to expectations as a profit engine.

Google's net income dropped 20% from the same quarter last year, missing expectations, but the loss was largely due to a $527 million cash bleed from Motorola Mobility, the mobile phone maker Google recently acquired. Its revenue was actually up 45% from the same quarter last year in the quarter.

Even the top line, however, was worrisome to some because the average price-per-click on Google ads was down for the fourth time in a row. This trend is largely attributable to the rise of the mobile web usage on smart phones and tablets. Mobile ads are rightly perceived by advertisers as being less valuable than ads viewed on a larger screen computer.

For anyone who came from the old media world, there is a certain sense of justice that comes from watching the economics of Google's search business get undermined by new consumer technologies. After all, that's exactly what Google did to publishing.

No one should be surprised, though, that the lofty expectations that have been built up on Wall Street for the mobile advertising business are proving to be a mirage. The growth-starved media industry has a longstanding habit of hyping anything that promises to pull it out of its misery, and mobile advertising has been a key talking point on Madison Avenue for years, along with international sales, which isn't working out so well at the moment either.

As a Google shareholder, none of this leaves me particularly worried. The announcement that Newsweek is putting its print magazine edition out of its misery is the latest bit of evidence of the inevitable march of media consumers onto the web, and Google has the best mouse trap for monetizing online media with its wonderful search advertising business, and it controls 75% of the search market.

Oh, and it is also the leader in display and mobile advertising.

I expect the company to continue growing long into the future, even if its earnings releases hit the tape early by mistake. I could care less about when people find out about a piece of information. The earlier corporate earnings information becomes available the better, I say. I care about the implications of the underlying information, and Google's results don't look too shabby to me.

The biggest concern about Google has long been that the company will waste the spoils of its search business on ill-fated investments and acquisitions like Motorola, where the jury is still out. At this point, though, I cut Google some slack on that score, based on the quality of its people and the chaotic nature of its business. Google is based on the quality of its people and the chaotic nature of its business.

Google is absolutely right to make some investments in new potential lines of business at this stage. With competitors like Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MSFT), Google can't be complacent.

At the time of publication the author had positions in GOOG, AAPL and MSFT.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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