“Apple Inc. is putting a record $10.5 billion to work in new technology — from assembly robots to milling machines — that consumers will never see,” Adam Satariano reports for Bloomberg News. “To get a jump on rivals like Samsung Electronics Co. and lay the groundwork for new products, Apple is spending more on the machines that do the behind-the-scenes work of mass producing iPhones, iPads and other gadgets. That includes equipment to polish the new iPhone 5c’s colorful plastic, laser and milling machines to carve the MacBook’s aluminum body, and testing gear for the iPhone and iPad camera lens, said people with knowledge of the company’s manufacturing methods, who asked not to be identified because the process is private.”
Satariano reports, “Apple is increasingly striking exclusive machinery deals, said the people familiar with the work, outspending peers on the tools that it then places in the factories of its suppliers, many of which are in Asia. ‘Their designs are so unique that you have to have a very unique manufacturing process to make it,’ said Muthuraman Ramasamy, an analyst with consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, who has studied the use of the machinery. ‘“Apple has so much cash that they can invest in cutting-edge, world-class machinery that is typically used for aerospace and defense.'”
“While designing a manufacturing process has long been part of Apple’s product creation, the task has taken on heightened urgency: The company’s fiscal 2014 capital expenditures excluding retail spending are up 61 percent from 2013 and almost 10-fold since 2008,” Satariano reports. “With the spending, Apple also is laying the foundation for new products. Cook said last month the company is preparing devices in technology areas where it doesn’t currently compete. The company has been exploring building a wristwatch-like wearable-computing device as well as new television products, people familiar with the plans have said. Apple also is working on new iPhone designs with bigger screens and sensors that distinguish heavy or light touches, a person with knowledge of the plans said earlier this week.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Friction-stir welding. Sapphire. Liquidmetal. Apple is using exotic materials and unique manufacturing methods to create amazing products that competitors, especially those consumed by running a race to the bottom, simply cannot replicate.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]