By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
April 10, 2013

FORTUNE — Asymco‘s Horace Dediu on Tuesday posted an edited transcript of the part of his most recent Critical Path podcast in which he described Google’s (GOOG) business model through an elaborate extended metaphor.

Think of the company, he suggested, as an enterprise that has strung nets across the mouth of the Mississippi and is trying to maximize the number of fish it catches by increasing the flow of water. To that end, it dredges river basins, redirects streams, knocks down existing dams, opposes new ones and seeds clouds to make it rain.

It’s a lovely piece of work — offered to get us beyond the view of Google as either good or evil — and I encourage you to read it.

Among other things, it helps explain why the company is wiring whole cities with fiber, why it created Android and what the unintended consequences of giving it away might be — such as allowing Facebook (FB) to lay down upstream nets with Facebook Home.

But it also raises the question of where Apple (AAPL) fits in. Several Asymco readers have tried to answer that with their own analogies: Apple is like an environmentalist, trying to keep the water clean. Apple is like a hatchery, trying to breed better fish. Apple as a manufacturer of sweeter-tasting fish food.

None of them quite work for me. Any ideas?

Links: Making Rain (blog), Make It Rain (podcast).

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