Which way Silicon Valley?
The big crush of tech companies reporting corporate earnings this week was more than just the ritualized exercise of presenting sales figures to Wall Street.
It was also a window into how power and influence are shifting in the tech industry and an indication of where the leaders in tech are heading this year.
Themes emerged from the week: Beyond the billions in sales and profits, the key question for tech is the trend line -- where is the potential for innovation and growth, and who is executing well against that?
"What's clear from the earnings reports is that the pace of disruptive innovation is going faster and is accelerating," said Larry Downes, co-author of "Big Bang Disruption." "Even the most innovative companies in the world can be caught off guard by technology changes."
Here's my report card about how four tech giants did.
Mobile is the name of the game and Google, with 42 percent of all U.S. mobile ad revenue, is king.
The company reported that its sales, mostly from ads, as well as its profit rose 17 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the same quarter last year.
The key driver behind the revenue growth was an increase in clicks on search advertisements. That's primarily a result of an increase in mobile ads even though Google continues to see a decline in revenue per mobile ad click.
Investors are excited that the company, with Android the dominant operating system worldwide powering a variety of smartphones, has room to run when it comes to innovation and mobile services. And the company continues to innovate in new arenas, from driverless cars, to Google Glass, to its recent purchase of Nest.
But it also is streamlining its core business. The company's announcement this week that it sold off its Motorola division to Lenovo signaled it isn't as worried about Apple and making its own hardware as it once had been.
Investors have sent Google's stock up almost 7 percent since the company reported its earnings Thursday.
Growth concerns frightened Apple investors even though the company reported a blockbuster quarter with record number of iPhone and iPad sales. Still, the smartphone market is growing faster than Apple's iPhone sales and investors are worried that Apple doesn't have a game-changing product line in the wings.
The company is rumored to be working on wearable computers or a new Apple TV.
Adding to the worries, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported that the company expected a slowdown in revenue in coming quarters.
Apple investors punished the stock this week, sending it down more than 8 percent.
But Apple should never be underestimated, said Clark Fredricksen, vice president at the research firm eMarketer.
"Apple is doing just fine," he said. "It is deeply integrated into digital consumers' lives. It's hard to see them getting derailed at all."
Facebook wins in the execution, mobile and innovation departments.
As it was preparing to go public in May 2012, the company faced concerns that it had a weak mobile plan. Flash forward two years and the social networking firm has practically pivoted the entire company around its mobile strategy.
Mobile daily users have increased 49 percent and the company generated $1.2 billion in mobile advertising sales, beating analysts' expectations. Mobile advertising makes up 53 percent of the firm's revenue.
Facebook investors have celebrated by sending shares up more than 10 percent this week.
The upshot from this week's earnings is that Yahoo remains in a fix.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has made a number of investments to boost the firm's mobile presence. But the company was unable to show a significant monetary impact from those efforts.
While the company met analysts' revenue and profit expectations for the fourth quarter, the key takewaway is that revenue was down 2 percent. That confirmed analysts' fears that Yahoo's core business -- advertising -- continues to shrink. The departure of the company's chief operating officer a week before its earnings report also unnerved investors.
"Yahoo disappointed," said Rebecca Lieb, an industry analyst for the Altimeter Group. "Yahoo remains a moribund company in search of an identity."
Yahoo's shares fell more than 5 percent after the earnings report.
With a 17 percent rise in revenue, the Internet giant proved again it is the king of digital advertising and is dominating in mobile. The only dark cloud is that the rates advertisers pay for users to click on mobile ads continue to fall.
The company reported record sales of 51 million iPhones, but that was a few million less than what Wall Street expected, raising fears that the competitive smartphone market could mean a slowdown in iPhone sales, and CEO Tim Cook indicated a weaker outlook for the quarter.
A company that just started selling mobile ads in 2012, Facebook reported that for the first time more than half of its ad revenue came from mobile. The social network is a mobile company, said CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who added, "One of the things that characterizes our company is that we are pretty strong-willed."
CEO Marissa Mayer has been shaking up the company and introducing new products and services, including for mobile, but the Internet firm reported that revenue from display ads dropped as did the price per ad.