Tim Cook’s efforts to influence policy in Washington DC in ways that better serve Apple have been hard to miss during his tenure as CEO. Pushing the company’s strong stance on privacy has been met with great pushback from the justice department and Apple was unhappy with how the ebook pricing case against it went so it’s no surprise its lobbying efforts have climbed in recent years. Now Politico, a news site focused on politics, has dedicated a lengthy 4,000+ word profile on Tim Cook’s relationship with Washington DC over the last four years.
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While Tim Cook declined to interview for the piece, former US Attorney General Eric Holder discussed his relationship with Tim Cook in the profile. Holder, who was notably among the high profile government officials publicly critical of Apple’s use of smartphone encryption, shared that he’s an iPhone 6 Plus and iPad mini user and called Cook “somebody who let his beliefs guide the way he wanted to conduct his business.”
“I thought Tim’s perspective on the question of encryption … had a degree of legitimacy that I think others in government were not willing to acknowledge,” Holder said. “It didn’t mean I agreed with it 100 percent, but I certainly thought in trying to formulate policy in this area, and what the government’s position was ultimately going to be, that he raised valid concerns that have to be considered.”
The profile draws a contrast between Tim Cook’s energetic effort to work with Washington DC and Steve Jobs’ mostly closed-door toward political activity while still describing Google’s and Facebook’s efforts at lobbying much higher.
The piece is rather timely as Reuters today reported Apple’s involvement in a new Pentagon effort to equip soldiers and jets with high-tech gear developed in part by Apple. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the new plan today with Reuters reporting that the others including Boeing and Harvard are on board. The project is said to be focused on creating “high-tech sensory gear flexible enough to be worn by people or molded onto the outside of a jet.”
The new technology aims to use high-end printing technologies to create stretchable electronics that could be embedded with sensors and worn by soldiers, a defense official said, and could ultimately be used on ships or warplanes for real-time monitoring of their structural integrity.
The report notes that the effort is being funded by $75 million in government funds and $90 million in private company contributions managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory plus local government contributions to reach $171 million over five years.
Apple of course has its foot in the sensors and tracking space in a big way thanks to the Apple Watch development plus health & fitness lab.