Apple's App Gap May Disappear

Morning Business Memo…

A challenge on two fronts for Apple - from Google and in the courts. The tech company's big competitive advantage may go away soon. Within months Apple may no longer be the world's most popular platform for smartphone apps. The Financial Times reports Apple "has used its superior apps presence to retain a competitive edge over smartphone rivals." But with recent gains in popularity for Samsung and Google-owned Motorola phones more developers are creating new apps for Android devices. About 50 billion apps have been downloaded for Apple's mobile devices. Last month Google reported 48 billion downloads for Android phones and tablets.

The government and Apple are set to square off over accusations of e-book price fixing. The Justice Department sued Apple last year, claiming it conspired with five major book publishers to raise prices for electronic books shortly before the introduction of the iPad in 2010. The government says comments from former Apple CEO Steve Jobs help prove their case. Apple lawyers argue the allegations are based on "faulty assumptions and unfounded conclusions."

This week could see more signs of a growing US economy with new reports on construction spending, auto sales, and most important, jobs. The Labor Department's monthly survey to be released Friday may give more evidence of an improving jobs market.

This might sound strange, but a stronger economy could be a negative for stocks, at least in the short term. Thirty-year fixed rate mortgage rates are at their highest level in more than a year, as speculation grows that the Federal Reserve could end its bond-buying program sooner than expected. Stocks sold off late last week with a 200 plus point drop for the Dow Jones index of Friday. The Fed's easy money policies have been a big plus for stocks. A month of rising US Treasury yields led to a selloff in stocks last week, especially those companies that pay high dividends.

Alcohol beverages could soon carry nutritional labels like those on food - but only if the producers want to put them there. The Treasury Department, which regulates alcohol, says beer, wine and spirits companies can place labels on packages that include serving size, servings per container, calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat per serving. Such labels have never before been approved. Alcohol companies won't be required to use the labels because they are voluntary. The decision is a temporary, first step while the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau continues to consider final rules on alcohol labels.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesabc

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