Apple has struggled with its Web relevance, but like Microsoft, the company makes tons of devices that users use to access the Internet, making it and its technology key on the Internet. For example, Apple is single-handedly responsible for essentially the death of Adobe Flash on mobile devices by simply not supporting Flash in its iOS operating system. Further, like Microsoft, Apple makes millions of devices that people use to access the Internet, making them a gatekeeper for apps and other content people use for the Web on those devices. The company is still, depending on the day, the most valuable company in the world.
Yahoo has been a key Internet brand for more than two decades now with its Web portal Yahoo.com as well as its Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Messenger and Flickr services, but in recent years Yahoo has been struggling with continued relevancy. The company hired former Google star employee Marissa Mayer to turn itself around, and Mayer made one key acquisition that arguably makes Yahoo more relevant than it’s ever been: Tumblr, which can be seen as analogous to when Google bought Blogger. Whether Yahoo continues to be a major Internet power in the future is by no means certain.
Facebook has more than 1.11 billion users according to TechCrunch, making it the largest social network on the planet. The company makes money from advertising to its users based on things they like and share. Facebook also owns Instagram, a popular photography driven social network, and has been working with Microsoft to integrate its knowledge base into that company’s Bing search engine. Questions about the company’s long-term longevity are prevalent, but for now, at least, Facebook is by far one of the most powerful companies on the Internet.
The company that rose to prominence as a software maker in the late 20th century is now nipping at Google’s heels in terms of Internet importance. Microsoft’s Bing and Skype target Google’s search engine and Hangouts feature, Office Web Apps target Google Docs users, Outlook.com targets Google’s Gmail users, and a very close relationship with Facebook might be enough to make Microsoft a close second to Google alone. But taken with the fact that Microsoft Windows is the platform that many people use to access the Internet, Microsoft essentially stands right next to Google in front of the line of gigantic Internet companies.
The most obvious Internet success story is Google, the company that started life as just a search engine to a company with a market capitalization value of $284.7 billion on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company’s search engine together with its Google Plus social network provides a wealth of knowledge to the company, allowing it to target relevant ads at users and, essentially, make money hand over fist while doing it. Owner of Motorola Mobility, YouTube and Blogger, and producer of the Android operating system, Google Glass and progenitor of Project Loon to bring wireless connectivity to sub-Saharan Africa by floating massive balloons over the continent, Google is clearly changing the Internet—and the world—as we watch.