Photo: Geoff Livingston via Getty Images

Apple will be before the U.S. Supreme Court this morning as part of a long-running dispute over whether the company exercises and abuses monopoly power in being the sole distributor of iPhone apps and taking a 30% cut.

Why it matters: The ruling could impact a broad range of digital marketplaces, not just Apple's. The company has seen support for its position from a range of tech and business trade groups, including ACT Online, CCIA and the Chamber of Commerce.

Between the lines: The Supreme Court isn't deciding the merits of the matter, but rather deciding whether those who buy iPhone apps can sue the company over the way it runs the App Store and takes its cut.

  • What Apple will argue: The iPhone maker believes that if anyone has a beef with the company, it would be developers, not consumers. Furthermore, it believes that by serving as an intermediary it is making the iPhone environment safer while still allowing developers to set their own prices.
  • What the plaintiffs maintain: Lawyers for the consumers suing Apple contend that the business relationship is between Apple and consumers. After all, it's Apple that shows up on your credit card when you buy apps.

The bottom line: It's an important case as more and more of the economy shifts from physical marketplaces to digital ones, and one more way in which the antitrust argument is being made against Big Tech.

Go deeper

Congress' next moves to rein in Big Tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

After grilling the CEOs of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple last week, members of Congress are grappling with whether to accuse any of the firms of illegal anticompetitive behavior, to propose updating federal antitrust laws — or both.

The big picture: Congress is just one arm of government making the case against these companies. Google is expected to be the first of the firms to face possible antitrust litigation from the Justice Department before summer's end, but all four face a full-court press of investigations by DOJ, the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.

Fauci: Coronavirus task force to examine aerosolized spread


A sneeze. Photo: Maartje van Caspel/Getty Images

The White House coronavirus task force will examine more closely just how much SARS-CoV-2 might be transmitted via aerosols, and not just from droplets, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said Wednesday at an online forum sponsored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Why it matters: The longer the coronavirus can remain infectious in the air, the more likely it can infect people, particularly indoors — leading to the possible need to alter air filtration and circulation within buildings.

The next wave to hit Main Street

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Call it the great retail wash. A wave of defaults, bankruptcies and evictions expected in cities across the U.S. is poised to remake the retail landscape across the country, but there may be some upside for consumers and small businesses.

Why it matters: Rather than an overnight descent into a collection of urban wastelands full of Starbucks, Amazon fulfillment centers, Chase bank branches and nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting retail apocalypse may just mean that, in major U.S. cities, less is more.