Apple’s R&D spending hints at something spectacular

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R&D
One of Apple's many R&D centers. (This one's in Japan!)
Photo: Apple

This year marks ten years since the launch of the original iPhone and, appropriately enough, Apple has ramped up its R&D spending as a percentage of its total revenue to the level it was during the development of its debut handset.

In other words, something big is coming!

A big increase in R&D spend

The Wall Street Journal writes that Apple increased its spending on R&D by 15 percent in the last quarter. That brings it to a total of $11.2 billion for the preceding 12-month period — or around 5 percent of Apple’s revenue.

While Apple doesn’t typically spend as much as other tech giants on R&D, due to the tightly-focused approach Steve Jobs reintroduced upon his return in the late 1990s, the increase is definitely significant. Since the first iPhone, Apple has grown significantly larger as a company, and has spent massive amounts on launching products like the iPad and Apple Watch. However, it’s never matched that same percentage of R&D spending.

In its last quarterly earnings, Apple wrote that it has seen, “an increase in headcount-related expenses to support expanded R&D activities.”

What’s Apple working on?

What this means remains to be seen. The two most obvious candidates are the iPhone 8 handsets and Apple’s Amazon Echo rival HomePod smart speaker, both of which will debut later this year. The iPhone 8 is set to be Apple’s biggest iPhone refresh since 2014’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus — if not earlier.

The company also reportedly has hundreds of employees working on a standalone augmented reality headset, while the Project Titan Apple car project is also moving forward in some fashion.

What do you hope Apple’s next big product is? Leave your comments below.