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Apple R&D spending flat for the first time in over a decade — sort of

Apple Park

Research and development spending has increased consistently for over a decade at Apple, but it's basically flat year over year for Q1 2024.

Apple spends incredible amounts of money on research and development each quarter. According to Apple's Q1 2024 earnings report, it spent $7.7 billion in the space.

When viewed each quarter, Apple has increased its spending on R&D year-over-year every quarter since at least 2013. For Q1 2024, it was nearly flat for the first time.

The near-flat year-over-year percent equates to about a negative 0.2% change. Typically, this would indicate a slowdown of Apple's R&D spending, but that may not technically be true.

Q1 2024 is a 13-week quarter, while Q1 2023 was a 14-week quarter. Assuming Apple spent R&D money at the same rate for another week in 2024, it would have seen a YoY increase of 7.5%.

A chart showing quarterly Apple R&D cost since 2013 increasing at a near constant rate until 2024 at approximately $7.7 billion.
Quarterly Apple R&D cost

A 7.5% increase would align with Apple's previous two quarters of YoY changes. Q4 2023 saw an 8.1% change, while Q3 2023 saw a 9.5% change.

However, the 13-week is what we're dealing with in reality, so that negative 0.2% change shows quite the deceleration in spending.

Line graph showing year-on-year percentage change in quarterly R&D costs with fluctuations and a final downward trend.
YoY percentage change in quarterly R&D costs

Apple's R&D spending has been decelerating but technically climbing higher than ever year over year. Evidence of Apple's constant research appears in weekly patent filings and new products like the Apple Vision Pro.