Google parent company Alphabet just announced its financial results for the first quarter of 2020, and not surprisingly the global COVID-19 pandemic had an effect. Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai called it a “tale of two quarters” on the earnings call with investors and noted that ad performance took a major hit in March after two very strong months.
Pichai also noted some parts of its business that were booming amidst the pandemic. Specifically, search usage has been booming; he said that at its peak, coronavirus-related search activity was four times the peak of Super Bowl search activity. YouTube watch time is also up in a big way, but he didn’t give a specific number; that said, he called out livestreams specifically as a growth area.
Android users are also hitting their phones hard. Pichai said that people are spending significantly more time in apps, and Google Play Store app downloads in March were 30 percent higher than February. Overall, Google has over 2.5 billion monthly active Google Play devices. But, the company saw a decline in device activations this quarter due to global consumer demand dropping.
One place where Google saw device interest soar was in the Chromebook segment; Pichai said that analysts saw a 400 percent increase in Chromebook demand the week of March 21st compared to the prior year. Similarly, Google said that 100 million students and educations used its Classroom education tools, double what it saw at the beginning of March.
As for how this all affected Google’s bottom line, the company still increased revenue 13 percent year-over-year to $41.2 billion, largely on the ongoing strength of its Search, YouTube and Cloud businesses. As for what happens next quarter, Google’s CFO Ruth Porat said it was going to be a difficult quarter for the advertising business, which remains the company’s biggest revenue driver by a big margin. Of course, it’ll likely depend on how the pandemic plays out over the next few months.