Larry Page, who with Sergey Brin cofounded Google in 1998, will take over as the company’s CEO, replacing Eric Schmidt, who joined on in 2001.

In his new role, Page will lead product development and technology strategy, according to the plan outlined in a blog posted today by Schmidt. Brin will devote his time to strategic projects and innovation with new products.

Page had been CEO at Google before Schmidt joined the company. The move is being made to reduce delays in decision-making and to clarify roles and responsibilities, according to Schmidt.

The news overshadowed Google’s earnings, which were reported today after the close of trading and exceeded analyst expectations. The company reported revenue for the fourth quarter at US$8.44 billion, an increase of 26% from the $6.67 billion reported in the same year-ago period; and $2.54 billion in net income, compared to $1.97 billion from the same quarter a year ago.

As holiday-season online shopping grew to its highest percentage since 2006, Google began offering product ads with images and search results that showed which physical store locations had items in stock, according to reports.

“Our strong performance has been driven by a rapidly growing digital economy, continuous product innovation that benefits both users and advertisers, and by the extraordinary momentum of our newer businesses, such as display and mobile,” Schmidt said in a statement.