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While both Apple and Google are in US and EU crosshairs, Apple is in a far more precarious position. Are iOS users ready for the pros and cons of opening Pandora's app box? This week, Apple reached a significant milestone in its nearly 45-year history: a valuation of over $2 trillion. It's the first American company to achieve that lofty status, surpassing the valuation of Saudi Aramco as a publicly traded firm. This comes only a year after reaching the $1 trillion mark, a milestone that its industry rivals Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet (Google) soon followed. But Apple's rise in valuation has placed the company under increased scrutiny and growing concerns about how it has been managing its developer ecosystem, notably its App Store. In May of last year, I discussed how the US Supreme Court paved the way for potential antitrust by allowing a class action suit against the company alleging monopolistic practices on its App Store to proceed. Although the ruling was not a judgment against Apple and was remanded to the lower courts -- the Court did not classify the company as a monopoly, and did not move forward with any antitrust penalty -- the decision does set a potentially damaging precedent for the company. By allowing this lawsuit to move forward, the high court's ruling opened up the possibility that there could be, at some point, antitrust proceedings against the company. All signs indicate that antitrust litigation against the company is virtually inevitable -- especially if Cupertino continues to maintain a status quo of allowing only Apple-trusted applications in its App Store and not permitting third-party payment services to be used for in-app transactions. In the last year, legal complaints against the company have increased, as have antitrust monitoring efforts by the US and European regulators. In 2019, Spotify issued a complaint to the European Union, alleging that because Apple's Music services aren't subject to the same 30% App Store transactional fees as third-party music services, it competes unfairly. Although Spotify's service can be subscribed to outside the App Store via an out-of-band browser purchase (in the same way other companies, such as Amazon, have also engaged in content purchases that bypass the App Store), Spotify argues that the 30% fee forces the firm to operate in an unfair environment, if it wants to offer subscriptions directly via the iOS app. This complaint has resulted in the EU proceeding with a formal investigation into Apple's App Store practices but has stated that it may take years to complete. In the past, the EU has fined American firms billions of dollars, such as its prior actions against Microsoft regarding browser bundling within Windows, which resulted in the company needing to build a "browser choice" screen into its operating system, and its $5B fine against Google for anticompetitive behavior in tying its search engine to Android. All of these legal activities seemed to have been pushed to the back burner given the current political climate and priorities of the Trump administration. The upcoming US elections and the COVID-19 pandemic have proven to be effective distractions. But recently, Apple has again come under scrutiny due to its interactions with Epic Games. The company made changes to its popular Fortnite game to allow for in-app transactions that do not go through Apple's App Store or Google's Play Store on their respective iOS and Android platforms. These changes resulted in the immediate removal of Fortnite from both the App Store and the Play Store, as well as a notification by Apple to Epic that its official developer accounts would be canceled at the end of the month due to violation of its developer agreements. Epic has since launched antitrust lawsuits against both Apple and Google, arguing that both of the companies are engaged in multiple violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act due to monopolistic practices. While both Apple and Google are in US and EU crosshairs, it could be argued that Apple is in a much more precarious position:  Any antitrust activity could create more significant issues for iOS platform end-users than for Android users. Why? Android already can side-load applications, which includes third-party app stores. This capability exists in the event an end-user wants to install software that either doesn't conform to the Play Store's policies (such as adult content) or that simply isn't listed in the Play Store for whatever reason. Additionally, Android is fully open source as part of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), so there is full transparency when it comes to APIs. Only apps that use Google Mobile Services -- which are fully documented by the company and licensed to devise manufacturers (such as Samsung and Microsoft) -- are considered to be proprietary. Complete details are posted on OUR FORUM.