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Research and Development: Apple vs Microsoft vs Sony

Illustration for article titled 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.

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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:

Illustration for article titled Research and Development: Apple vs Microsoft vs Sony
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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).

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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?

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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

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Research by David Chaid

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DISCUSSION

And yet what does Microsoft have to show for all this R & D spending?