App StoreSource: Joe Keller / iMore

What you need to know

  • An app store bill sponsor says Apple used intimidation and "a lot of money" to kill her legislation.
  • Rep. Regina Cobb says that Apple used aggressive lobbying tactics to stop the legislation.
  • A new report claims Apple hired five lobbyists in Georgia who threatened that Apple would pull out of two economic projects in the state.

A new report into the defeat of an app store bill aimed at Apple in Georgia claims the company used intimidation and "a lot of money" to torpedo the legislation.

Politico writes:

When Apple wanted to kill off two bills in Georgia this year, it rushed lobbyists to the state legislature, threatened to abandon key economic projects and persuaded the state attorney general to push for an Apple-friendly amendment.

Two months later, the bill that had appeared to have the most momentum stalled in the Georgia House Judiciary Committee. The committee chair did not bring the legislation to a vote during this year's legislative session, effectively killing it in the lower chamber.

Bill sponsor Rep. Regina Cobb said "Apple has been able to intimidate and use a lot of money" adding "They do it in different ways in each state, but it all comes down to strong-arming the legislature." Cobb stated that legislators were "running a little scared" because of Apple. The report describes Apple lobbying at the state-level just like Google, bug claims Apple "has been the more aggressive and visible opponent across multiple states."

The app store bills target Apple's 30% revenue cut of in-app purchases, and the report states that whilst powerful companies like Spotify and Epic Games are at the other end lobbying in favor of these legislative measures, Apple seems to be winning out:

Apple, the world's most valuable company with a $2.1 trillion market capitalization, has successfully wielded its money in the states in a way that most companies would not be able to, threatening jobs and offering massive investments — a tactic that has prompted its opponents to claim they are engaging in unethical behavior and potentially violating state ethics laws in at least one instance, in North Dakota.

The report claims that in response to two Georgia bills in early February, Apple hired five new lobbyists who told lawmakers Apple would pull the plug on two big important economic projects, including a reported deal to make Apple Car in Georgia:

And during the frenzied debate following the bill's introduction, Apple lobbyists told legislators that the company could pull out of two important economic development projects in Georgia — a $25 million investment in a historically Black college in Atlanta and a potential multibillion-dollar partnership with Kia to build autonomous vehicles in the city of West Point — if the legislation went through, according to two people familiar with the conversations. They spoke anonymously in order to discuss private discussions.

The report stated that Apple denied making these statements. iMore has reached out to Apple for comment on the matter. The report states that Apple was also able to quash bills in North Dakota and Louisiana. Apple continues to face legal and legislative pressure in a number of different theaters including the US and the EU. Groups like the Coalition for App Fairness also continue to lobby against Apple in other theaters, for example in South Korea.