Yoni Heisler took at look at the history of Apple’s Research and Development spending:
One of the more interesting data points from this chart is that the company’s R&D costs took a noticeable plunge following Steve Jobs’ return to Apple. This is without question the result of Jobs’ effort to streamline Apple’s entire product line and refocus the company’s energies and efforts on just a few core products. Of course, in the process, some beloved products like the Newton were shown the door.
That spending is now way above those late-1990s lows, but Apple was also on the brink of bankruptcy then and now they’re the most valuable company in the world. Still, Apple’s R&D tends to lag far behind that of most of their peers. For example, Canon still spends more.