Massive R&D increase suggests Apple is working on something huge

“Taking a look at the increased amount of money Apple has been pouring into R&D beginning last summer, it is looking increasingly likely management gave the green light for Apple’s next big project,” Neil Cybart writes for Above Avalon. “I suspect Apple has begun work on battery, telematics, and autonomous driving initiatives related to personal transport.”

“Apple is now spending close to $2 billion per quarter on R&D, an amount that is downright remarkable when considering Apple’s very lean product line-up can still fit on just one of Jony’s wooden design studio tables,” Cybart writes. “In the past, the bulk of Apple’s R&D program has been focused on specific projects and goals. This stands at contrast with a strategy of setting up a number of R&D labs with no clear directive other than to find future products. If Apple is spending R&D, it is a good bet they have a specific goal in mind for those dollars.”

“Starting last summer, Apple’s quarterly R&D expense has increased $500 million from the previous year. This pace is up from the $200-$300 million quarterly increase during the Apple Watch development phase. For perspective, it has been reported that Apple spent just $125 million developing the iPhone,” Cybart writes. “Looking at the recent jump in R&D, I suspect we are seeing the early stages of Apple beginning to add talent and processes for future personal transportation initiatives.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A little birdy tell us that, when it comes to what you’ve seen so far from Apple, you’ve hardly seen anything yet.

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    1. Yes because Apple has hit it out of the park nearly every time with it’s R&D dollars, UNLIKE Microsoft?

      Maybe you might want to consider & differentiate how one company might be structured differently from another with different leadership & talent. Or that Apple has gone beyond mere computers on it’s mission to improve technology for humans and make some money while they’re at it?

      Or are all things corporately equal regardless as “George’s Law” and differences aren’t worth considering?

      1. There are some characteristics of postings like George’s:
        – An empty, negative declaration,
        – Lacking any coherent argument, any actual logical structure with thought out, supporting points.
        – Delivered with an emotional tone that I would describe as variations on petulant, pouting and bombastic.

        Such posts bring to mind a foot-stamping three year old. Unlike a three year old, who may not have the mental and emotional tools to articulate and deal with problems, an adult should be able to “use their words” more effectively.

        So what are such people:
        – Paid trolls?
        – Sad cases who get their jollies out of being constantly negative?
        – Adults with the emotional maturity of a three year old, having foot-stamping mini-tantrums over anything Apple?

        It all very mysterious.

        1. Sean, it seems to me George is cautioning that a giant’s footsteps often lead to the same bad end as another giant’s, that in itself is not really foot stamping. Unless I have missed a whole sequence of “yet another” posts like this from George. He provides a supporting link. I think people read up on what they already believe, and in that way see a strenghtening pattern. I know I do, which is why I limit my reading especially on the internet which is a soapbox for extreme opinions. Namely, Apple is either godlike, or doomed, or on a slippery slope. I think of them as unique, the likes of which we can’t reasonably expect to see again.

    2. IF Apple is ever the the Microsoft position of having to play catch up by spewing out half-assed products, THEN we’ll worry that Apple is wasting R&D money the way Microsoft has consistently been doing. But NOT until then.

      IOW: Busted for lack of insight and perspective. Put that FUD back on the burner or just throw it away. Wrong recipe.

    3. The CNN article to which George linked is one of those bizarro world Apple hit pieces where the writer actually fabricates nonsense. It truly has no connection to reality.

      I think MDN should delay the posting of all links inserted by posters and if they’re of this sort, at least put it behind that wall where the original source page will not benefit from any hits.

    4. this is an example of how Msft spends all that R&D money:

      Zune OS, , Danger which became Pink which became Kin Phone, Courier OS, for Courier Tablet, Win Mobile 6 (end of line ) , Win Phone 7 which died with Win phone 7.8, Win Ph 8 , Win Ph 10 (many of the above are completely different OS ) ETC.

      this above is just part of the ‘R&D’ from the mobile department . After all that the Win Phone has 2% market share ….

      in short is not how MUCH you spend buy HOW you spend it.

    1. It’s Samsung saying, “we need a bigger copier”. They’re desperately trying to pump up interest in their S6, jumping the shark! Meanwhile, in Redmond they’re kicking their dead copier. Too bad they purchased a Samsung.

    1. … or something related.

      I tend to think that Apple was inspired by the POS crap that is the Google driverless car. Apple can do better and I expect they’re going to make it technology that can be applied to A LOT of other manufacturer’s cars. Meanwhile, I still find it highly vacuous that Apple themselves would design a full blown car. But my mind is always open, despite severe filtering.

    2. I think a bus is bigger than a car. The world needs more buses and more frequent buses. Individual transport is a luxury that the world can’t afford. More cars will require more roads and more roads mean that places we want to get to are farther apart which means we need more time to get there and cannot get there on foot or with a bike.

      Yankees can’t imagine a workable transportation system because they worship ‘freedom of movement by the individual’ which we all should be able to see is eroded by the increase in individual transportation.

      Imaging the internet if each data package was only one byte long. With the overhead of headers, sender and receiver addresses, encoding or file type, error checking and transmission send times etc, the actual data would be a minor part of the whole package and the internet would slow to a crawl. We use larger data packages for most internet traffic and get better efficiency. Human transportation can enjoy the same type of efficiency.

  1. Wow, that means that Samsung will have huge new products.. You know, copying what ever Apple and its billions get and that judge Lucy will just let Samsung to steal it.

  2. No one in the journalism or analyst community has ever been acquainted with basic math, especially percentages. So, R&D went up $500 million this year and $300 million last year. What is that in percentages? How does that compare to revenue or profits? R&D is needed just to ramp up production and to incrementally improve an increasingly large portfolio of products. Plus, the iPhone supposedly costs $150 million of R&D in 2007! That translates to about $230 million adjusted for inflation, not counting the fact that engineering salaries have gone up more than that due to constrained supply. So, there’s $80 million in “growth in R&D” since 2007. Then, you have to consider the iPhone has *considerably* more features than 2007, so you need ever more R&D just to do that.

    The linked article to CNN talks about how Apple spends more on R&D than Microsoft. Well, duh, it’s a far larger company. It’s like saying Apple spends way more on toilets in their office buildings than Microsoft.

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