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Google releases Q1 results, talks betting big on future projects

Google has reported consolidated Q1 2013 revenue of some $14 billion (£9.2bn), a 31 per cent increase from the same time period last year, as well as $3.9 billion (£2.5bn) in earnings.

The search giant is also sitting on a cash pile of $50.1 billion (£32.8bn), much of which will likely go towards creating the gadgets of the future, according to CEO Larry Page.

During a conference call with analysts, Page discussed Google's untapped potential, and the projects that might seem odd for an Internet company to pursue, like self-driving cars. Ultimately, however, these "speculative" projects are the technologies of the future.

Gmail and Android were once speculative projects, after all, he said. "We are still only at 1 per cent of what's possible; we really are just getting started," Page said.

One futuristic project Google is just now ramping up is Google Glass, which Page said is still in "early days." The Google CEO said he most enjoys the photo and video-taking capabilities on Glass, as well as the ability to quickly send a message or get directions. He declined to comment on whether the $1,500 (£980) price tag will come down anytime soon, though he acknowledged it is "pretty high."

"We're excited to really get it out to some developers and have some other people create some amazing experiences with it that we haven't thought of yet," he said. "It's early days, but it's really exciting."

The expansion of Google Fiber into more US states also generated some excitement recently. But an analyst on the earnings call questioned whether Google could really compete in the ISP game and make the investment worthwhile.

"It's really about pushing for speed and writing the next chapter of the Internet," said Nikesh Arora, Google's senior vice president and chief business officer.

Offering speeds that are 100 times faster than what people are currently experiencing is a "great user experience" and "we really are excited about this," he said.

Another more near-term project is the next generation of mobile devices from Motorola Mobility, now owned by Google. Page said he has "seen Motorola's upcoming products myself, and I'm really excited about the potential there." The team at Motorola has "accomplished a lot in just under year," he said.

Those new Motorola devices will be running Google's popular Android OS, which is now under the direction of Sundar Pichai. Google recently combined the Android and Chrome teams under Pichai, leaving Android chief Andy Rubin adrift at the search giant.

Page said today that "we haven't decided" what Rubin's future will entail at Google; "I'm not going to make news" on that, he said. But Pichai "loves a big bet" and "we've had a very smooth transition, and I'm excited about the future."

We'll likely get some more details about what Google has up its sleeve at its Google I/O developer conference in May.