San Francisco (AFP)

Neither political pressure, nor the pandemic, nor the procrastination of advertisers had a hold on the summer results of Alphabet (Google), Amazon and Facebook, whose revenues and profits far exceeded expectations, even if Wall Street seemed to expect even more from the tech giants.

Amazon, for example, a big winner in containment measures, saw its revenue soar 37% to over $ 96 billion in the third quarter, but its share fell 1% in electronic exchanges following the close. of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday because its forecast was deemed too timid for the holiday season.

Google and Facebook, the two world leaders in digital advertising, have also exploded the counters.

The internet search giant posted sales of $ 46.2 billion, up 14% year-on-year, for a net profit of $ 11.2 billion.

Results hailed by the markets: its title took off 6%.

The dominant social network has for its part released 7.85 billion in net profit, despite a boycott of hundreds of brands during the summer because of the controversies surrounding its moderation of content deemed problematic.

And the family of users of its various platforms and messengers (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp) has grown even further.

As of September 30, more than 3.2 billion people used one of its four apps at least once a month.

Of the four tech giants, only Apple has really disappointed.

Smartphone sales slowed in the fourth quarter of its staggered fiscal year, and its stock fell sharply in stride, by more than 4% around 9:15 p.m. GMT.

The iPhone, the flagship product of the Apple brand, generated sales "only" of $ 26.4 billion, down more than 20% from the same period last year.

Apple has also seen its revenue decline by nearly 30% year-on-year in Greater China (which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan), one of the company's crucial markets.

But "the first reactions to our brand new products, especially our iPhone range with 5G, are incredibly positive," tried to reassure boss Tim Cook about the iPhone 12 launched in October.

- Advertisers do not desert -

The four companies are facing major challenges at the same time.

All are accused by the competition authorities of abuse of a dominant position in their respective markets, from social networks to online sales platforms.

The Department of Justice and 11 US states have just launched legal proceedings against Google, and investigations are underway against its neighbors.

The bosses of the dominant social networks, Facebook, Twitter and Google (YouTube) on Wednesday faced U.S. senators angry at the power of platforms and their influence in public debate, days before the U.S. election scheduled for November 3.

The blows rained on the Californian leaders, accused both of "censorship" by the right and laxity by the left, in terms of moderation of content.

This topic has aroused passions in the context of current political tensions, from the Black Lives Matter movements to the many controversies over disinformation and Donald Trump's regularly inflammatory comments online.

But for now, the anger of elected officials and many NGOs has not translated into economic setbacks, even for Facebook, which in July suffered a boycott of hundreds of brands, such as Adidas, Levi's or Coca-Cola, mobilized by NGOs concerned about the spread of incitement to violence or hatred.

“Facebook has rebounded well after the initial cut in advertising spending at the start of the pandemic, when advertisers pulled their campaigns from all media to revise their message or save money. They also recovered well from the boycott in July,” he said. reacted Debra Aho Williamson, analyst at eMarketer.

“In 2021 we can expect more advertisers to take a close look at their addiction to Facebook and wonder if this environment is safe for their brands,” she added.

"But for now, as the holiday season approaches, Facebook's numbers look very solid."

© 2020 AFP