Apple’s R&D offices would be strategically located near companies specializing in AR, maps, among others

Longtan Taiwan - Apple Research and Development

Writing for Bloomberg, Alex Webb (with the help of Mark Gurman) pointed out that, in recent years, Apple has spread its research and development (R&D) offices around the world in a very strategic way, close to companies specializing in certain areas and, in many cases, it would have ?stolen? several employees.

There are two factors here that are interesting: the first is the strategy used by the naughty Apple; this is not something new, but peculiar to realize that the company is going this way. The second factor that, when looking at the locations, we can see that these are perhaps the areas that Ma is really focused on, since its annual investment in R&D is now $ 11 billion.

Let’s look at the main locations, with their respective areas:

Maps and car system

In Berlin (Germany), in 2016 Apple opened an office about 3km from HERE, a company specializing in maps that Nokia sold to a German car manufacturer in 2015. This office today is basically made up of former software engineers from HERE is the explanation for seeing car navigation improvements in the app.

In Denver (in the United States), last week, Apple published vacancies for engineers specialized in maps. But look at the curious fact: in May, the local media claimed that Ma was supposed to be probing a building just two blocks from Mapquest headquarters, which is owned by Verizon.

In Ottawa (Canada), BlackBerry’s car systems division (QNX) has several of its former engineers working in the same area, but now in a unit that Apple opened near there last year.


We closely follow the Imagination Technologies saga, which was shattered after its main customer (Apple) discarded its graphics chips in order to create its own solution. Many manufacturer employees, however, are Very well, thank you, working at an Apple office in Hertfordshire (England), just 11km from Imagination’s headquarters.

In France, more specifically in Grenoble, last year Ma opened an office with 20 employees that is very close to a R&D unit of the Franco-Italian company STMicroelectronics. The local newspaper Le Dauphin Libr said Apple would be creating a team dedicated to the development of image chips based on STMicro technology. This would be linked to the camera improvements in the latest releases.

The chip maker AMD has an R&D lab in Orlando (USA). Guess who built a R&D unit nearby years ago! Yes, Apple. And, as you can see in a LinkedIn survey, about 32 Ma engineers in that area have previously worked with AMD, many specifically with graphics processors.

All these chip investments seem to have debuted now with Apple’s own graphics solution, which came in the new iPhones (8, 8 Plus and X) together with the A11 Bionic processor.


Longtan Taiwan - Apple Research and DevelopmentLongtan Apple Office (Image: Maurice Tsai /Bloomberg)

Opened in 2015, Apple’s R&D unit in Longtan (Taiwan) would focus on screen technologies in order to reduce Samsung’s dependence. Previously, Ma’s building would have been occupied by AU Optronics and Qualcomm; some sources said that several Apple employees had previously worked for both companies.

This investment in screens is very important, especially now that a new technology (at least for Apple), OLED, has been implemented in the iPhone X.

Augmented reality

Apple has said, several times, that it bets a lot on augmented reality and on what it can provide for developers and users.

Last year, the company reportedly hired several former engineers from New Zealand’s Weta Digital, which was co-founded by the famous director Peter Jackson and responsible for special graphics effects for productions such as ?The Lord of the Rings?, ?Avatar? and ?Planet of the Apes ?.

Apparently, the employees are part of a team focused on augmented reality, created in 2016 to supposedly develop the rumored smart glasses that would surpass even the iPhone.

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Evaluating the above cases, the procedure seems to be the same: first Apple defines the area in which it wants to focus its research, then it analyzes which companies are already developing similar studies to then look for a place near these and open a unit next to in order to ?steal? some employees.

Is all this coincidence? With the number of cases, it is difficult to think that it is merely chance. From what you can see, it is a very well defined strategy judging by the article, it seems to be successful, in the same?

Perhaps now we can even predict Apple’s focus from now on, just check which companies / businesses are close to the areas where it opens its R&D offices. ?