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Apple's lobbying costs grew to $1.24M in Q1, still lag well behind rivals

Partially to push its new Apple Pay mobile wallet service, Apple boosted its lobbying efforts to a new high in the first quarter of 2015, though the company's spending in Washington remains well behind rivals Google, Microsoft and others.

In a disclosure form published by the U.S. Senate this week, Apple revealed it spent $1.24 million on lobbying the U.S. federal government in the first quarter of calendar 2015. The issues addressed by Apple's lobbyists cover a wide range, including digital textbooks, corporate tax reform, open Internet, and mobile medical applications.

A new topic also broached by lobbyists this quarter, as noted by Bloomberg, was mobile payments, a market that the company entered in late 2014 with the launch of Apple Pay. The U.S. government announced in February that it will accept Apple Pay for a number of transactions, starting with admission to U.S. national parks, in September.

The $1.24 million spent by Apple represents a 16 percent year over year increase from the first quarter of 2014.

But Apple's spending comes nowhere close to rival Google, which invested a record $5.47 million into its lobbying efforts in the first quarter of 2015, according to nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog. Google's spending was a significant 43 percent increase from the $3.82 million the company spent in the same quarter a year ago.

Compared to rivals Google, Microsoft and Amazon, Apple continues to spend relatively little on lobbying compared to its position as the largest company in the world by market capitalization.

Also with a major increase was Comcast, which is fighting to have its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable approved. Despite growing its lobbying spend 50 percent to $4.62 million, it's expected that the U.S. Department of Justice will block the deal.

Facebook also outspent Apple by a significant amount, coughing up $2.44 million for lobbying efforts in Washington. And software giant Microsoft also spent $1.89 million. Both companies' lobbying bills were down year over year, however.

Amazon increased its lobbying efforts by 130 percent in the first quarter, spending $1.91 million to help influence the government. Other noteworthy companies include Intel ($1.17 million), AT&T ($4.37 million), Verizon ($3.35 million), Time Warner Cable ($1.7 million), and Yahoo ($730,000).

Last year, Apple spent a record $4.1 million to lobby the U.S. government, an 18 percent increase from the $3.4 million it spent in 2013. If the start of 2015 is any indication, Apple will likely again see another increase through the end of the year.

Apple did not cross the $1 million threshold on lobbying until 2006, and continues to spend relatively little on lobbying compared to its position as the largest company in the world by market capitalization.