Big Budgets Looking for Breakthroughs
The technology industry's 10 biggest spenders in research and development have invested a combined $49.4 billion in the past 12 months, according to Bloomberg data. Find out which technology companies are spending the most and what they're spending it on.
(The figures are based on data as of Oct. 27. R&D spending as a percentage of net sales reflects the latest year.)
No. 10: Apple R&D budget: $2.43 billion
Percent of net sales: 2.24
Apple, one of the most innovative companies in the world, is known to be highly secretive about its projects. Before his passing, Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he had figured out how to build an integrated TV with a simple user interface that would wirelessly synchronize content with Apple's other devices. Apple hasn't confirmed that it's developing a TV set, but Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says the company has a prototype in the works and may introduce a product by late next year or in 2013.
Photographer: Ryan Anson/Getty Images
No. 9: Amazon.com R&D budget: $2.57 billion
Percent of net sales: 5.07
When Amazon makes its Kindle Fire tablet computer available this month, the online retailer will be bidding to gain an edge in a market dominated by Apple's iPad. The Kindle Fire will sell for as low as $199, less than half the price of the cheapest iPad. But Amazon's war with Apple could squeeze profits, a concern that helped push shares down 13 percent last Wednesday.
No. 8: Qualcomm R&D budget: $2.82 billion
Percent of net sales: 23.19
GPS helps guide people outdoors. The Qualcomm Bay Area Research & Development team is working on a mobile app that helps people find their way around such indoor locations as airports, malls, and hospitals. So where's the bathroom?
Photographer: Seokyong Lee/Getty Images
No. 7: Hewlett-Packard R&D budget: $3.24 billion
Percent of net sales: 2.35
In June, Hewlett-Packard began a trial in Singapore of its Mobile Health Monitoring Solution, a wearable device (much like a wrist watch) that monitors patient blood pressure around the clock and shares that information with health care professionals.
Photographer: Eric Mar
No. 6: Oracle R&D budget: $4.47 billion
Percent of net sales: 12.69
In October, Oracle unveiled more than 100 business applications, part of a long-awaited collection called Fusion that the company spent six years developing. Fusion software unifies the code of many acquisitions Oracle made. It can handle sales, human resources, finance, inventory management, and other tasks.
No. 5: Google R&D budget: $4.92 billion
Percent of net sales: 12.83
Google is working to develop one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity. The Internet search company's project, called RE<C, aims to develop enough clean energy to power a city the size of San Francisco—at a price cheaper than that of coal.
No. 4: Cisco R&D budget: $5.82 billion
Percent of net sales: 13.47
In July, Cisco announced a makeover of its flagship Catalyst 6500 Series Switches. One of the additions is a new 2-terabit card that can quadruple the number of devices or users that can connect to a network. Now a single Catalyst 6500 switch can support up to 10,000 mobile devices.
No. 3: IBM R&D budget: $6.28 billion
Percent of net sales: 6.03
In August, IBM revealed a new generation of experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain's abilities for perception, action, and cognition. These chips will be used to make so-called cognitive computers that can learn through experience, find correlations, create hypotheses, and remember outcomes.
No. 2: Intel R&D budget: $7.71 billion
Percent of net sales: 15.07
At Intel, researchers have started the Tomorrow Project to look at the future of computing and the broader impact of technology on humans and the planet. "The nature of computing is changing; it's not just about PCs anymore," says Brian David Johnson, Intel's futurist. "It's finding its way into our pockets, TVs, and walls."
Photographer: Getty Images
No. 1: Microsoft R&D budget: $9.18 billion
Percent of net sales: 12.93
Imagine Star Trek's virtual-reality holodeck for your office desk and you've got the idea for the Holodesk from ]Microsoft. This interactive system, announced in September, lets users touch and move virtual objects. Holodesk uses a Kinect camera and an optical transparent display to give people the illusion that they're interacting with 3D graphics.