Apple has always been a control freak. But is it guilty of abusing its monopoly power?

If a seven-year-old antitrust case finds Apple guilty of misusing its position in the apps market, the ramifications could be huge

A strange thing happened last week: Microsoft passed Apple (briefly) to become the world’s most valuable company. Two factors seem to have accounted for this. The first is that Microsoft (which many people – mistakenly – think of as the tech equivalent of the Singer sewing machine company) has been on a roll recently as its CEO, Satya Nadella, successfully pivoted the company to focus on cloud computing (in addition to Windows, the Xbox and its Surface tablets).

The second is that Apple shares have been on the slide because investors fear that iPhone sales may have reached a plateau and that the remarkable growth in Apple’s “services” business will not make up for the decline in iPhone revenues.

In that context, a case that was heard in the US supreme court last week has acquired a new salience. It concerns the App Store, the most important and profitable part of Apple’s services business, which was one of the big ideas Steve Jobs had in 2007 when he launched the iPhone.

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