Apple is a notoriously secretive company, choosing to keep things under wraps until it has a product ready for market, as opposed to the likes of Google and Amazon, which fire out regular press releases highlighting what the company is working on.
In an interview with Fast Company, Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue had this to say:
“We don’t want to tell the world what we want to solve, what we’re trying to solve. Why? Because we haven’t solved it. Other than trying to make ourselves look cool or good, what’s the purpose of that? I don’t understand that part of it. So, yeah, there are a bunch of things we’re working on that we’d like to solve–some we’ve been working on for years and we haven’t solved, for that matter. I don’t feel like we should be tooting our own horns that we’re trying to solve that problem, when we haven’t really solved it.”
This makes sense. After all, look how Google fell on its face when the Glass project imploded, or how Amazon keeps endlessly talking about drone delivery and yet all my Amazon packages are still delivered in the same way they were a decade ago.
It’s cool seeing new stuff in development, but without real products and services to back it up, it quickly starts to feel like the main purpose of the teasers is to get free publicity.
So, what’s Apple keeping under wraps? Well, if we knew that it wouldn’t be a secret would it? But unless it’s burning R&D money in a pyre, it has a lot it’s keeping under wraps (although it’s existing product lineup that crammed with outdated stuff might suggest otherwise).
R&D spending is through the roof. Over the past nine months, Apple has spent $7.5 billion on R&D, compared to only $5.8 billion over the same time period the previous year. It has been $2.5 billion for each of the last two quarters, and the company is estimated to break the $10 billion mark this year, with this number rocketing past a projected 12 billion next year. Sounds like a lot, but it still lags behind companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Intel (although since not every company reports R&D spending in the same way, these numbers aren’t an Apples to Apples comparison).
It’s also interesting to look at Apple product launches in the context of R&D spending, and realize how limited — comparatively speaking — the company’s spending was back when it was developing products such as the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad.
Apple’s juggling a lot of products right now, all of which need attention, not to mention however many secret projects, so it’s no surprise to see R&D spending growing as rapidly as it is.