Maybe I'm biased, but the frequency of these articles about Apple trying to get ahead of this since the trial ended has only seemed to increase. They really seem to be squirming to me. They seem to be acting like they know they are getting away with something and are trying to keep up the game.
"It says that, should the US force Apple to let third parties load apps onto iPhones and iPads, it would irrevocably harm the app market."
Yeah, it will hurt Apple's pockets. If Apple's App store had no apps in it except for Apples, would people still use iOS devices just for Apple's apps, or would it just be Apple's cult members that use the device?
With the new appointment to the head of the FTC, I bet Apple is panicking.
As far as I am concerned, I don't believe any existing Apple users will be harmed if Apple is forced to allow customers access to an alternative app store. Any claim by Apple to the alternative sounds to me like they are saying "Our users are too stupid, and they will somehow have their two year old install the other app store, and then down malicious apps and their data will be stolen. It has nothing to do with our fat pockets. Please! Think of the children!"