One of the best examples of its unusual approach was its management triumvirate. The company had maintained that the leadership arrangement helped boost its business.
Though the move to install Page was widely seen as an effort to put engineering first, analysts noted that he has been closely involved with business operations as well.
"There's always a risk with a CEO change, but I'm sure Larry has had a fair amount of input into the strategic direction and even the day-to-day operations of the company already, so I would not expect dramatic changes," said John Lutz, senior research analyst
at Frost Investment Advisors, which owns Google shares.
Page will take over a company that is, by most measures, a gold mine.
Google, bolstered by the uptick in holiday spending, said its fourth-quarter profit rose 29% to $2.54 billion from $1.97 billion a year earlier. Revenue for the Web search giant climbed to $8.44 billion, up 26% from the same quarter in 2009.
Paid clicks, which include clicks related to ads served on Google sites and the sites of its partners, increased about 18%, Google said.
In a conference call, Schmidt said the three men for years had made decisions together but that it was a slow process. The new management structure will streamline decision making, he said.
That decision making will be crucial in the coming year as Google attempts to reclaim its status as one of technology's companies to watch.
Google's sweeping ambition is to reach people wherever they are and on whatever device they are using and connect them to a wide array of services and content. All that information collected across devices and services could give Google valuable insight into users and better means to deliver personalized advertising campaigns. If it's successful, Google could regain its clout on Wall Street as a growth rather than a value player.
With the rising popularity of smart phones and tablet computers, Google has pushed its Android mobile operating system that is powering new devices to compete with Apple Inc.'s fleet of consumer gadgets.
"I don't think the Street is particularly aware of what is coming with Android and tablets. And the accelerating use of smart phones and tablets plays directly to Google's strengths," Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter said.
"The more people using the Internet, the more Google wins."
Schmidt calls it "the big mobile revolution."
"As I think about Google's strategic initiatives in 2011, I realize they're all about mobile," Schmidt wrote recently in the Harvard Business Review.
To achieve its goals, Schmidt said, Google would have to do "some serious spade work" on three fronts: speed up networks, turn mobile phones into virtual wallets and lower the cost of smart phones in the poorest reaches of the world.
"We envision literally a billion people getting inexpensive, browser-based touch-screen phones over the next few years," he wrote. "Can you imagine how this will change their awareness of local and global information and their notion of education? And that will be just the start."