Research and Development: Apple vs Microsoft vs Sony

The core of any long-standing technology company is research and development. Here's how Apple, Microsoft and Sony's last decade of spending stack up.

Note that the first graph shows research and development as a percentage of revenue (to scale the spending by company, since revenues differ so greatly). This next graphic can help you conceptualize the revenue and R&D gap:

Research and Development: Apple vs Microsoft vs Sony

A Few Interesting Notes:

• Now, Microsoft spends about 17% of their revenue on R&D. Sony spends about 8%. Apple spends less than 4%.

• If you were to break down the amount of R&D that goes purely to physical (non-software) products sold by Apple and Sony, Sony would spend about $11.5 million per product while Apple would spend about $78.5 million per product. (Of course, that's rolling the cost OS X and iPhone OS development into Macs and the iPhone, which could be seen as inflating their per product spending.)

• Microsoft just spends a lot of money in R&D, period—about $9 billion last year in generalized research (that often doesn't lead to specific products). In terms of percentage growth over the last decade, Apple's R&D has grown the most (nearly quadrupled) while Sony's has grown the least (not quite doubled).

In light of these bare numbers, is it any surprise that Sony is struggling the most to capture the hearts and minds of a public hungry for gadgets?

Sources:

Apple
Apple Public Relations
Apple Investor Relations
Apple Insider 2004
Apple Insider 2005
Apple Insider 2006
Apple Insider 2008
Mac Observer
Microsoft
Microsoft Investor Relations
Sony
Sony Investor Relations

Research by David Chaid