NEW YORK (
) -- Today's fun fact comes from the analysts at
. They say we're adopting devices -- phones and tablets -- at 10 times the rate we adopted PCs back in the 1980s, and twice the rate at which we adopted the Internet in the 1990s,
I covered those first two booms. They were neat. If you understand that this one is taking place twice as fast as the last one, mostly around one company --
-- then you understand why Apple is the most valuable company ever.
In covering this juggernaut most analysts point to Apple's network of suppliers and infrastructure companies, firms that depend on Apple for their success. The best-known of these companies is
, the Chinese assembly giant.
Whenever a new iDevice comes out
looking for brand markings on the chips. One of the most important members of Apple's hardware ecosystem turns out to be
, which just sank $3 billion to $4 billion into an Austin, Texas, chip plant supplying Apple,
If Apple really wanted to hurt Samsung it wouldn't sue Samsung for damages, it would find a new chip supplier.
But now that there are millions and millions being served by iPads and iPhones, the ecosystem's reach is broadening. Just as with Windows a generation ago, there's now a large and growing app industry serving the Apple ecosystem, and all of these companies are to some degree dependent on Apple for their survival.
This offers new hope to some very large companies, hope that is being seized. Here are two examples, ripped from the headlines:
Before Facebook went public the chief criticism against it was its lack of a mobile strategy. People were even talking up a Facebook phone.
Well, Facebook has a mobile strategy. It's called the iPhone.
, Facebook is now rolling out tight integration among its services and iOS, as well as the OSX operating system used in Apple desktops.
With Facebook stock now struggling to hang on to $19 a share, half its offering price of May, something resembling a win is essential. Having the premier social network on the iPhone, with the tightest software integration, could do the trick. (Especially if the alternative is something like Google Plus.)
Given the fact that Facebook has built its own cloud to host its service, and that it has worked to build its own infrastructure of Facebook apps, it could easily extend success within the Apple ecosystem to its own partners, helping them while helping itself, and Apple.
Then there's Yahoo!.
You know the first thing Marissa Mayer did for her troops on arriving from
Yahoo!'s chief assets are a wealth of content -- news, business, and sports especially - and its own cloud. The Hadoop "big data" project actually originated at Yahoo!. Delivering cutting-edge content apps based on Yahoo! content, delivered through Yahoo!'s cloud, could be just the thing for turning that struggling stock around.
Also, while the Apple iCloud is based on
Azure architecture, Yahoo! is using open industry standards. Success with its own apps, in other words, could lead it to contracts hosting other firms' apps. Since Apple does not want to build multiple clouds, it might embrace this.
As any platform grows, it becomes an ecosystem, then an industry, with the creator of the platform at its center. But there is always plenty of money sloshing around to mean big profits for many other companies, especially after the platform becomes established.
Facebook and Yahoo! seem to be betting their futures on that. History says it's not a bad bet.
At the time of publication, the author had positions in YHOO, MSFT and AAPL
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.