eric schmidtWhile crowing about Google’s strong fourth quarter earnings during a conference call this afternoon, the search giant’s executives looked back on 2009 as a whole. While Google seemed to be elbowing its way into many new markets this year, Vice President of Product Management Jonathan Rosenberg actually emphasized that Google benefited by deciding to “double down” on its core products like search.

Sure, Google announced new, ambitious products like Chrome OS, Wave, and free turn-by-turn driving directions, but Rosenberg pointed out that the company ended 2008 by burying its virtual world service Lively, then began 2009 by more-or-less killing six products including Dodgeball and Google Notebook. For a company that previously boasted about morphing products rather than killing them, that was a pretty significant shift, and suggested that even as it expands, Google is casting a more critical eye on different products.

Rosenberg described this as the “more wood behind fewer arrows approach,” and added, “I think it worked for 2009.”

Moving forward, chief executive Eric Schmidt said Google will continue its “70-20-10” spending approach — 70 percent of its spending will go to established businesses like search, 20 percent to newer businesses like mobile that fuel search, and 10 percent to long-term investments. He noted that in recent months Google has been averaging one acquisition per month, and said we can expect that level to continue in the future.

Schmidt was also asked about Google’s recent decision to stop censoring its search results in China, which might eventually lead to the search service to be blocked in that country. He said there wasn’t much to add that wasn’t covered in the press already.

“We like the Chinese people, we like our Chinese employees, we like the business opportunities there,” he said, but Google wants to do business in China under “different terms.”