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Apple cranked up spending on R&D to $1 billion last quarter

January 25, 2013|By Chris O'Brien
  • Apple is now spending $1 billion on R&D. But who knows what its mad scientists are up to?
Apple is now spending $1 billion on R&D. But who knows what its mad scientists… (Marti Cole )

The dust is still settling from Apple's earnings this week, and investors are still frantically trying to refill their blood pressure medications after the stock plunged. 

But if those investors are looking for some reasons for optimism, they might do well to check Apple's numbers related to its research and development spending. 

Tucked way down deep in its 10-Q filed on Thursday, the company noted that spending on R&D increased 33% in the quarter ending in December. That amounts to an increase of $252 million to a cool $1 billion. 

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What's more: That rate of increase is a bit larger than than the 32% increase for the same quarter last year. A year ago, Apple bumped up R&D spending $183 million. 

So, what's cooking in Apple's labs? Ha. You didn't think they'd actually tell us that, did you? In the filing, the company said, "This increase was due primarily to an increase in headcount and related expenses to support expanded R&D activities."

The filing goes on to say: 

"The Company continues to believe that focused investments in R&D are critical to its future growth and competitive position in the marketplace and are directly related to timely development of new and enhanced products that are central to the Company’s core business strategy. As such, the Company expects to make further investments in R&D to remain competitive."

On the earnings call this week, executives insisted that Apple's product pipeline is "chock full" of all sorts of goodies. But this ramp-up in spending certainly seems like fodder for those who have been speculating that Apple TV is coming down the pike. 

In a way, it's also reassuring for Apple fans. When faced with slowing growth, many tech companies turn to the default saviors: mergers and layoffs. (See: Hewlett-Packard). Apple, by comparison, innovated its way to the top. 

And judging by these numbers, the company is betting that innovation will be its greatest weapon as it battles to stay on top. 

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Follow me on Twitter @obrien.

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