Wednesday 27 July 2016 1:08 pm

This is the huge amount of money Apple is spending on R&D right now

Did someone say iCar?

The tech giant might remain coy about exactly what its plans are, but the numbers are clear – Apple is splashing some serious cash on developing new technology despite experiencing its second consecutive decline in revenues.

Spending on research and development has rocketed, more than doubling in the last four years and Apple has spent a record amount on innovation this year amid a slowdown in those all-important iPhone sales.

Read more: More proof smartwatches are not a thing as Apple Watch sales stall

Apple's research spending is on track to break through the $10bn mark for the first time this year and it has already splashed $7.4bn in the first nine months of the financial year – a figure 25 per cent higher than last year and more than it spent for any year prior to 2015.


Based on annual average growth in R&D spending of around 30 per cent, it's likely to speed past the $10bn barrier by the end of Apple's financial year at the end of September.

Spending on innovation has remained steady despite recent revenue declines, with R&D spending now at its greatest ever in terms of share of revenue.

The Apple Watch was its first major new device since the launch of the iPhone in 2007. However, the smartwatch does not look like it will replicate the global success of the iPhone anytime soon, with the latest analyst figures revealing sales have decline by 55 per cent as the much-hyped device failed to take off.

Speculation is mounting around Apple's work on driverless and electric cars, known as Project Titan. Details of the top secret scheme are scarce, with many analysts fingering the so-called iCar as the reason behind the increased spending.

Read more: Apple's latest earnings explained in seven simple charts

A senior Apple executive with a history of getting Apple's new products off the ground has emerged to head up Project Titan. According to the Wall Street Journal Bob Mansfield – a top executive under Steve Jobs who became an adviser to the firm in 2013 – is overseeing the project directly.

Last year Apple made headlines with its iCar plans, hiring a former Chrysler executive, while electric car king Elon Musk said it had been poaching staff from Tesla. Leaked documents have since revealed Apple has held a number of discussions about testing areas for the vehicles in California.

Apple is also working on artificial intelligence technology, something used in its iPhone;s with voice assistant Siri and with broader applications, and Apple boss Tim Cook said it is "continuing to invest a lot" in augmented reality tech, speaking on a conference call after its latest earnings