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Apple spent record $1.7B on research & development last quarter, $6B in fiscal 2014

Apple's spending on research and development grew 35 percent to more than $6 billion in fiscal 2014, setting a new record as the company gears up for future products like the Apple Watch and beyond.

With $6.04 billion spent in fiscal 2014, Apple invested a record $1.68 billion into R&D in the September quarter alone. That was slightly higher than the previous record of $1.6 billion spent in the preceding June quarter.

Though total R&D spending grew 35 percent from the $4.48 billion Apple spent in fiscal 2013, research investments remained at 3 percent of the company's percentage of total net sales. In contrast, just 2 percent of total net sales, or $3.38 billion, was spent on research and development in fiscal 2012.

Apple's spending, revealed in its latest 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, was primarily driven by an increase in headcount and related expenses. Apple said those expenses included share-based compensation costs, as well as machinery and equipment to support the company's expanded R&D.

"The Company continues to believe that focused investments in R&D are critical to its future growth and competition 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," the filing reads. "As such, the Company expects to make further investments in R&D to remain competitive."

Though Apple is usually tight-lipped about future product plans, the company did tip its hand on an entirely new product category last month, revealing the forthcoming Apple Watch. Final specifications and details on the Apple Watch remain unknown, because the wrist-worn device remains in development ahead of an early 2015 launch.