Microsoft's research facilities around the world.
Microsoft is among the technology leaders in research and development, having spent $9.8 billion in the category for its fiscal 2012 year. Its primary competitor isn't exactly in the same ballpark – Apple spent $3.4 billion on R&D for its fiscal 2012 year.
According to Microsoft's financial review, the company's R&D costs have steadily increased over the years. For its fiscal 2011 year, for instance, it spent $9 billion on the category, and in fiscal 2010 it spent $8.7 billion. As pointed out by The Next Web, Microsoft is on track to spend about $10 billion next year.
While the amount spent on research by Apple may be dwarfed by Microsoft's spending on the category, it's actually a significant step-up from previous years.
Microsoft's rival spent $1 billion more – or nearly a third – than its previous fiscal year, as it spent $2.4 billion in its 2011 fiscal year. According to its three-year financial history, Apple spent just $1.8 billion on R&D in the fiscal 2010 year. The $1 billion year-over-year increase is the largest in Apple's history, the company's financial review noted.
For Apple, the increase in spending may represent the start of a new era. Steve Jobs was famously against spending much time on consumer research, saying it played almost no role in what products Apple would make.
"It isn't the consumers' job to know what they want," Jobs once stated when asked how much consumer research went into the iPad.