Apple's R&D Spending Is Surprisingly Low

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You'd think the company that's produced several category-creating products would spend a big chunk of its cash on R&D. Take Google, for example, which spent 14 percent of its revenue on R&D in the first nine months of this year. But Apple's not like that. The company only spent 2.2 percent of its revenue in R&D over the last nine months, according to a revealing post at ZDNET. And the trend is consistent: that number has been under 5 percent since 2004.

If you believe R&D spending is important, Apple's layout doesn't look good. On paper, their R&D spend looks more like HP's than HTC's or Microsoft's or Google's. On the other hand, Apple's ability to create new, awesome products is undisputed. You know the old marketing saw, "I know half of my advertising is wasted, but I don't know which half?" Perhaps the same applies to R&D and only Apple has figured out which half to cut.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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