The combined tech lobbying spend of Apple, Amazon, Meta, and Google has hit $35.3M so far this year. All four companies are trying to fight antitrust measures which would reduce their market dominance.
In the second quarter of the year, the tech giants and their trade groups out-spent big pharma – although Apple’s lobbying spend has returned to its pre-record level…
Apple is facing antitrust threats to a whole range of its products and business practices, from Apple Pay to the iPhone ads it obliges carriers to pay for if they want to sell the phone.
The biggest threat is to the App Store, as we’ve previously outlined.
Apple argues that it does not have a dominant position in this market, as it considers the relevant market to be either “smartphones” or “apps.” Since the company holds a minority share of the smartphone market in most of the countries in which it operates, it believes it cannot be considered to have a dominant position.
Competition regulators tend to take the view that the relevant market is “iOS apps,” and here Apple has a 100% monopoly on their sale and distribution. Edge cases aside, there is no way for a developer to bring an iOS app to market without selling it through the App Store.
Companies like Epic Games argue that they should be allowed to sell in-app purchases without Apple taking a cut of their revenue. The argument here is that Apple harms developers by taking part of their income, and consumers by forcing developers to charge more to make up for Apple’s cut. Apple, in response, says that it is perfectly normal for a company to take a cut of the sales it facilitates.
The company faces antitrust legislation all around the world, including the UK and the 27 countries making up the European Union.
But Apple’s lobbying is primarily focused on trying to fight US antitrust regulation, which could force the company to allow competing iOS app stores.
Tech lobbying spend
Bloomberg reports that Apple, Amazon, Meta, and Google have collectively spent $35.3M on lobbying in the first half of the year.
The major tech companies and their trade groups spent $17.3 million on lobbying in Washington during the second quarter of this year, seeking to fend off legislation that could force them to fundamentally change their business practices.
The industry in the last quarter outspent one of Washington’s biggest donors: top pharmaceutical companies and their major trade group, which spent nearly $16 million, according to a Bloomberg tally of the top five US firms and their leading trade group.
Overall, the four largest technology companies and their third-party groups spent $35.3 million during the first half of 2022, a 15% increase over $30.5 million in the first half of last year.
Apple’s lobbying spending hit a record $2.5M in the first quarter, although this fell to $1.9M in Q2 – the same amount the company spent in the final quarter of last year.
It had been expected that US antitrust bills would move forward to a Senate vote last month, but their progress is currently being blocked by Chuck Schumer.
The spotlight is now on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has not scheduled a floor vote for the bills despite pledging to do so earlier this summer. Antitrust advocates have escalated a pressure campaign against Schumer, participating in stunts like playing ads in front of Schumer’s homes in New York and Washington.
It’s unclear whether Congress will pass the legislation before the August recess. Still, the threat has caused a flurry of opposition as the companies spend tens of millions on advertising campaigns, funnel money into front groups and deploy their top executives to appeal to lawmakers directly.
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