Tickers in this Article: GOOG, AMZN, YHOO, EBAY, AOL
Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) ended the year with its stock price essentially flat, despite strong revenue and earnings. Many critics raise questions about Google's ability to meet a host of challenges in the coming year and beyond. Let's take a look at the speculation.

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Google Stock Unrewarded
Google shares sold for $602.2 on January 4, 2010 to open the year, and closed the year selling at $593. 97. In the interim, the stock ranged as low as $433 per share and as high as $630. Still, the small price advance was disappointing given the $27.5 billion in sales and the nearly $8 billion income, a profit growth of 32%.This while another internet leviathan, Amazon's (Nasdaq:AMZN) stock was soaring to new heights. So, what gives?

Google's Headwinds
Google is expected to have regulatory and legal problems, according to S&P IT analyst Scott Kessler. Google Maps will face problems in China, while there are possible legal woes relating to intellectual property issues with Android. Google's purchase of ITA software has run into difficulty with the Department of Justice.

A larger question has to do with investors awaiting an even larger impact by Google in the mobile phone industry.Will it even become a wireless carrier, as some have suggested, or are there too many barriers and complexities to make this worthwhile? Put another way, will competitors be able to block this move or avenge such an aggressive strategy?

There have also been product and strategic misfires, such as the limp rollout of Google TV. While it's too soon to brand certain moves as failures, what the Street, including Google investors, are waiting to see, are some innovative, decisive moves which will continue to vault Google forward. The wait is for the panache and drive that made Google what it already is.

Google Not Done Yet
The Street doesn't set the bar nearly as high for, say, Yahoo! (Nasdaq:YHOO), or other internet players such as eBay (Nasdaq:EBAY) or lowly AOL (NYSE:AOL). Being one of the titans invites a different standard. Android is not the iPhone, for example, but as tech expert Don Dodge pointed out, Google's mobile search and advertising are revenue streams, so it doesn't have to try to be iPhone.

Also, Google continues to buy up other businesses, something it's successfully done, welding them into its far flung, sometimes loose fitting structure.With the strategic moves Google has made over the years, it has successfully begun transforming itself from a search only business to something beyond that. Google is in effect expanding and changing its business model to "beyond search" while maintaining its incredible revenue, earnings and cash flow. (For more, see Looking Back On Tech In 2010.)

Google Growth
Analyst Rory Maher of Hudson Square Research wrote a strong recommendation for Google which implicitly answers the critics. He looks for "product improvements and accelerated shift of local advertising dollars online," along with the continued revenue growth from emerging market search. He also points to the increasing importance of the mobile search revenue streams. Also, Android has the possibility, if not probability, of high growth in market share of Smartphone operating system space.

The Bottom Line
The ultimate success for Google in the year ahead and beyond revolves around its management. I think its management, which has been effective in the past, will continue to be so. New products and innovative approaches which have defined this company should continue to give it the ability to strongly meet its new challenges. This once simple search and ad company may be poised for another round of growth. (For more, check out Stocks With Good Growth, But Poor Outcomes.)

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