Everything we see materializing in Apple products and services has always involved years of research and testing. Even if we don't have the real notion of the effort behind everything launched, we can get an idea by looking at the numbers related to research and development (R&D).
Just yesterday, an Apple document sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revealed that Apple's R&D spending in the fiscal third quarter of 2017 was $ 2.9 billion, which represents 6.4% of the company's net sales.
In comparison with the previous fiscal quarter, there was a 6% increase in investment. This shows that, even though inflation helped to increase spending, Apple is certainly investing more than in 2016 during the same period, which preceded the launch of the iPhone 7.
Although the company does not specify in its reports exactly where this money went, we can think of several products and projects which are being prepared to be launched or revealed.
This may be the case for hardware that has already been announced and is about to reach the public, such as HomePod and iMac Pro (both in December). And, of course, even though it hasn't been announced, we also need to take into account Ma's new devices, more specifically the ?iPhone 8? and its expensive OLED screen, the 3D facial recognition sensors in the cameras, among other things.
In relation to broader projects, ARKit has been widely publicized and its application has been extended to more varied areas. Certainly, Apple invests heavily in this technology. In addition, we have confirmed the investment in autonomous systems (especially for cars), as well as initiatives to improve health that will possibly be present in the next generations of Apple Watch.
These are just a few examples of what Ma may be investing at the moment; certainly, every day new ideas are appearing and requiring an increasing volume of capital.