Apple is investing big time in renewable energy, and so the company — whose historical relative aversion to politics has earned it an investigation from the Senate — is now investing more seriously in politics.
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced at a tech conference Tuesday that it was hiring President Obama’s former Environmental Protection Agency director, Lisa Jackson, as a vice president for environmental initiatives. This isn’t very surprising on one level — people with top government positions in renewable energy tend to cash out to industry.
Will Jackson’s job be about chasing subsidies for the renewable investments Apple is already making?
Three years ago, I wrote about Apple’s relationship with environmental policy:
Apple’s new iPad, like the iPhone, MacBook, and iPod, derives part of its value as a “signaling” device: When you bust it out next to your latte at Busboys & Poets or scroll through your playlist while waiting for the Metro at the U Street/Cardozo stop, you wordlessly broadcast something about yourself to those nearby: You’re hip, you’re educated, you’re not as old as you look.
The Apple clientele is not homogenous — it’s got a few different species of hip. But watch closely the current iPad commercial and you’ll see Apple’s beau ideal: a New York Times reader who goes kayaking, buys Ted Kennedy’s memoirs, and visits Paris. OK, there’s also nerd stuff in there — “Star Trek” and “Dawn of the Dead” — but the urban, hip, cosmopolitan is a huge target audience for this device, which helps explain Apple’s effort to green itself.