The LA Times says Apple has slowly begun hiring more lobbyists in Washington, D.C. to protect its interests as it has grown from a niche player to one of the tech sector’s biggest powerhouses. Apple has traditionally placed little reliance on lobbyists, but in February of this year, Apple contracted the services of the high-powered Washington lobbying firm of Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock.
The move comes as Apple has grown from a company worth $2.5 billion in 2003 to a behemoth with $300 billion in market capitalization, and from $37.5 billion in sales in FY2008 to $65.2 billion in FY2010. Accordingly, the company has tripled its lobbying expenses in that time to $1.6 million. The move for more pull in Washington comes as Apple is increasingly coming under the microscope of antitrust issues, primarily regarding the iTunes Music Store, the App Store, and the iBooks Store. [Apple’s lobbying expenditures are quite small in comparison to US cell carrier partners AT&T and Verizon; each telco spent more than $15 million on lobbying in 2010. The highest lobbying bill for an individual corporation belonged to Pacific Gas & Electric last year, which spent more than $45 million. -Ed.]
Last year a clause in Apple’s iOS SDK spurred an an antitrust investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over anticompetitive measures regarding the banning of the porting of software originally written for Adobe’s Flash, Sun’s Java or Microsoft’s Silverlight/Mono to the iPhone OS. Also just last month Steve Jobs was ordered to give a deposition relating to monopolistic behavior over the iPod and the iTunes Store back in 2004.
Besides Apple, Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock represents other powerful companies, including the NFL Players Association, BP America, UnitedHealth Group, and the Recording Industry Association of America.