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SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 22 AFP

January 23 2013, 4:16PM

Google reports its profit climbed and its annual revenue hit an unprecedented high last year as it evolved to stay in tune with people using smartphones and tablets.

"We ended 2012 with a strong quarter," said Google co-founder and chief executive Larry Page on Tuesday. "We hit $US50 billion ($A47.57 billion) in revenues for the first time last year; not a bad achievement in just a decade and a half."

The fourth quarter profit was up 6.7 per cent from a year earlier at $US2.89 billion, and for the full year Google's earnings grew 10 per cent to $US10.74 billion.

Revenue in the quarter that ended December 31 was up 36 per cent from the same period a year earlier at $US14.4 billion. For the year, revenues grew to $US50.2 billion.

Google shares jumped more than five per cent to $US738.20 in after-market trading that followed release of the earnings figures, which topped most Wall Street estimates.

Google dominates the US online advertising market, which grew 14.9 per cent to $US10.58 billion in the final three months of last year, according to eMarketer.

The market tracker estimated that Google takes in more than 41 per cent of digital ad revenue in the US and "holds more share than any other company" when it comes to online, display and mobile advertising.

In a conference call with financial analysts, Google executives stressed how the company was connecting with people on smartphones and tablets, and cautioned it would take time to get freshly acquired Motorola Mobility on course.

Page said he was excited about progress Google has made in handling search queries spoken to mobile devices and described the online Play shop for music, books, applications and other digital content as "on fire".

Google's mapping service program tailored for Apple gadgets running on the iOS platform has been a hit, Page said, adding that its search and email programs are also popular on Apple devices.

Google has been shedding unwanted Motorola Mobility assets since it completed its $US12.5 billion takeover of the company in 2012.

Analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley said investors would be watching to see the bites taken from Google revenue by investments in self-driving cars, internet-linked eyewear, smartphones and other projects.

"Most eyes will be on their build-out," Enderle said. "Clearly, like Microsoft, they will be expanding their hardware footprint."

By Glenn Chapman