Google, Facebook and Apple each nurtures its very own microeconomy. Hundreds of businesses orbit around each of these companies, operating either somewhat or completely dependently on the audiences and/or the technology platforms the three provide.
It could be argued that Google alone drives nearly every company on the Web. Search is the lifeblood of the e-commerce, Web publishing and online ad sectors. Hundreds of specialized agencies exist solely to help brands make sure their sites are found and visited.
In Apple’s case, more than 200,000 iPhone apps (and counting) says it all. Developers have flocked to the device and its sibling, the iPad, to build sustainable businesses.
Of course, the app virus started spreading on Facebook, which made the bold decision in 2007 to open its platforms—spurring a massive developer influx. That’s led to everything from the silly—Superpoking and movie quizzes—to the stunning: think 80 million people playing FarmVille and Zynga pulling in $500 million in revenue this year.