Apple to build major new R&D facility in Japan, prime minister reveals

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2014
Apple is on the verge of announcing a 'cutting-edge' new research and development center located in Japan, the nation's prime minister revealed on Tuesday.


iPhone 6 Plus teardown. | Source: iFixit


Apple has yet to confirm the comments from Japan Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, which were made in a campaign speech outside of Tokyo, according to Reuters. The government official said that the new R&D center will be on par with existing Apple facilities in Asia.

According to the prime minister, the research facility "will be formally announced soon." Details on what exactly Apple might use its expanded presence for in Japan remain unknown.

As Apple's profits have grown, so too have the company's expenses on R&D. In the last quarter alone, the iPhone maker sunk a record $1.68 billion into research and development, totaling $6 billion in the company's fiscal year 2014.

"The Company continues to believe that focused investments in R&D are critical to its future growth and competition in the marketplace and are directly related to timely development of new and enhanced products that are central to the Company's core business strategy," Apple said in a 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "As such, the Company expects to make further investments in R&D to remain competitive."

Apple has been expanding its R&D presence globally in recent months, with news leaking in November that the company plans to open a new R&D facility in Cambridge, U.K. It is expected to join a new location in Shanghai, as well as two offices in Israel.

Though Apple is usually tight-lipped about future product plans, the company did tip its hand on an entirely new product category last month, revealing the forthcoming Apple Watch. Final specifications and details on the Apple Watch remain unknown, because the wrist-worn device remains in development ahead of an early 2015 launch.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    Probably a wise move since China is so IP-hostile it makes new product development and introductions a near impossibility. At least Japan can respect Apple's privacy (although I shouldn't speak too soon)...
  • Reply 2 of 39
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    Probably a wise move since China is so IP-hostile it makes new product development and introductions a near impossibility. At least Japan can respect Apple's privacy (although I shouldn't speak too soon)...



    No, you're right. Besides, the Japanese still have significant engineering talent. And they've been hurt by Chinese and Korean IP theft.

  • Reply 3 of 39

    No, you're right. Besides, the Japanese still have significant engineering talent. And they've been hurt by Chinese and Korean IP theft.

    Possibly with Japan's new economic troubles it becomes more sensible to move some manufacturing there as well. It would be nice for Apple to break their over reliance on China and Korea.
  • Reply 4 of 39
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Assuming this is true what is Apple going to do besides confirming its existence? No way is Apple going to say what the facility is for, especially if it involves future stuff being cooked up in the labs.
  • Reply 5 of 39
    rogifan wrote: »
    Assuming this is true what is Apple going to do besides confirming its existence? No way is Apple going to say what the facility is for, especially if it involves future stuff being cooked up in the labs.

    They would have no reason to reveal anything about this development.
  • Reply 6 of 39
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,457member

    It makes sense to move manufacturing, and now R&D, to Asia. As the U.S. continues on its slow decline and Asia’s economies surpass those of the West international companies have to relocate to where the customers (and their money) are. One day Apple could just move everything over there and be done with it. Other companies will follow suit.

  • Reply 7 of 39
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member
    undefined
  • Reply 8 of 39
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,380member

    No, you're right. Besides, the Japanese still have significant engineering talent. And they've been hurt by Chinese and Korean IP theft.

    How times change with national IP attitudes. Anyone old enough to remember the early 1960's will recall every product imaginable from the US and Europe being duplicated by the Japanese and sold cheaply. In those days this lead to the very words 'made in Japan' synonymous with 'really shoddy' . They even had the gaul to have western city doppelgängers like 'Sheffield' so that the low quality knives and forks for example could have 'made in Sheffield' engraved on them. The one I recall the best was R.onson (a period after the R) cigarette lighters that were identical knock offs to Ronson lighters except a fraction of the cost and they dropped to pieces after a few uses. By the early 1970's things changed and Sony and Panasonic for example put western brands to shame in design and advances in technology and soon 'made in Japan' meant high quality.
  • Reply 9 of 39
    Probably a wise move since China is so IP-hostile it makes new product development and introductions a near impossibility. At least Japan can respect Apple's privacy (although I shouldn't speak too soon)...


    No, you're right. Besides, the Japanese still have significant engineering talent. And they've been hurt by Chinese and Korean IP theft.

    Japan have a rich history of technology. Remember the Walkman?

    It's pleasing to see Apple investing in Japan, as they seem a friendly and wise people, and their country is in dire straits. And it's not China.
  • Reply 10 of 39
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

     

    It makes sense to move manufacturing, and now R&D, to Asia. As the U.S. continues on its slow decline and Asia’s economies surpass those of the West international companies have to relocate to where the customers (and their money) are. One day Apple could just move everything over there and be done with it. Other companies will follow suit.


     

    I don't think it's anything to do with US decline, it's just that Global Logistics and the Internet make it possible for a company to be globally spread out now and still function.

  • Reply 11 of 39
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    Probably a wise move since China is so IP-hostile it makes new product development and introductions a near impossibility. At least Japan can respect Apple's privacy (although I shouldn't speak too soon)...



    There's actually history on Apple managing info-containment in Japan:  the "mirror" back panels of the old iPods came from a Japanese company, and there were no leaks of upcoming iPods back then.  More recently, Apple pretty much ran a Sharp plant at one point -- we've heard speculation on why Sharp never became a major supplier, but facts were never made public.  That's quite significant IMO, considering Sharp was a publicly listed company whose very existence was in question. 

     

    Trivia:  this Apple facility is going to be located in the same area as the last home of IBM Japan's Yamato R&D team before it was dismantled by Lenovo.  They were responsible for the IBM ThinkPads, and were also the creators of the PowerBook 100. 

     

    I'd guess Apple's Japan facility would be a technology center for evaluating, and/or managing, future M&As in Japan. 

  • Reply 12 of 39
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Apple confirmed this news. They said it would be dozens of jobs. I doubt it's any major manufacturing move. It could be related to display or camera technology.
  • Reply 13 of 39
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    Apple confirmed this news. They said it would be dozens of jobs. I doubt it's any major manufacturing move. It could be related to display or camera technology.

    Or lovable game characters that kids can't get enough of.  That seems to be the major Japanese export of the last decade or so.

  • Reply 14 of 39

    I know Apple certainly has plenty of money, but I've often wondered how wise it is to build facilities in those earthquake prone areas of the Pacific Rim.  That Fukushima nuclear power plant incident was quite a disaster and I hope the facility is nowhere near that area.  I suppose even the new Apple headquarters as at some risk since it's in California earthquake country.  I suppose Apple shouldn't worry about all the things that could go wrong and just do what they need to do.  On this planet anything can happen at any time.

  • Reply 15 of 39
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,331member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by malax View Post

     

    Or lovable game characters that kids can't get enough of.




    Or a tax break from the Japanese government.

  • Reply 16 of 39
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,526member
    From Tech Crunch:

    [QUOTE]Update: Apple provided the following statement regarding the new facility –

    We’re excited to expand our operations in Japan with a new Technical Development Center in Yokohama which will create dozens of new jobs. These new positions join our many employees in Japan, including eight retail stores. We are proud of our history here and we thank our many customers for their support over the 30 years Apple has been doing business in Japan.[/QUOTE]

    As Rogifan says, display and camera technology are possible likely subjects of R&D. Sony seems to be pushing ahead with sensors just fine. Apple's approach may be helping to bring some discipline to megapixel insanity.

    On the display side, pixel-density insanity is more welcome, IMO. Even though IGZO was developed in Japan, it's strange to see that LG seems to be the production beneficiary, after all the early investment in Sharp (in Yokohama?) from Apple, Foxconn and even Samsung. Maybe this is the kind of problem the new center is meant to solve.
  • Reply 17 of 39
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member

    I think Apple has reached its peak when Steve Jobs dies.  Cook has followed a route that is unApple.  The old Apple is never so active in research.  Apple used USB in the iMac and wifi in AirPort base station.  Both technology are not developed by Apple.  But both has benefited mankind in the most unimagined way.  Apple is working closely with SONY and making itself more and more like SONY.  SONY is a dying corporation.  It developed several technology that are best in class.  However, they are so expensive that consumers became repulsive to SONY.  SONY has not changed recently.  It is still an arrogant corporation. 

     

    To develop all technologies in house has a big drawback.  Even the most valuable corporation in the world can not hire all the talents in the world.  To those lucky to be hired by Apple, they obviously will work hard to outperform.  Then Apple will become arrogant to overlook the technologies developed by other companies.

     

    The third problem is Apple is becoming evil.  It easily discarded long term suppliers like Omnivision which has supplied the 1.2 MP front cameras for years.  This is unethical business practice.

  • Reply 18 of 39
    tzeshan wrote: »
    I think Apple has reached its peak when Steve Jobs dies.  Cook has followed a route that is unApple.  The old Apple is never so active in research.  Apple used USB in the iMac and wifi in AirPort base station.  Both technology are not developed by Apple.  But both has benefited mankind in the most unimagined way.  Apple is working closely with SONY and making itself more and more like SONY.  SONY is a dying corporation.  It developed several technology that are best in class.  However, they are so expensive that consumers became repulsive to SONY.  SONY has not changed recently.  It is still an arrogant corporation. 

    To develop all technologies in house has a big drawback.  Even the most valuable corporation in the world can not hire all the talents in the world.  To those lucky to be hired by Apple, they obviously will work hard to outperform.  Then Apple will become arrogant to overlook the technologies developed by other companies.

    The third problem is Apple is becoming evil.  It easily discarded long term suppliers like Omnivision which has supplied the 1.2 MP front cameras for years.  This is unethical business practice.

    You have some "interesting" ideas about Apple.

    They aren't beholden to any supplier and have the leeway to shift suppliers in a moments notice if need be...except for GT. That was a major screwup.
  • Reply 19 of 39
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    Looks like those would be

     

    LOOLLOOOOLLLOLOLLLOLLLOLLLLL

     

    Tell me sir what was Apple's market cap at the peak of Steve Job's reign and now compare it to now.




    I think the good will left by Steve Jobs has helped Apple iPhone to become more and more accepted. 

  • Reply 20 of 39
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,331member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tzeshan View Post

     

    I think Apple has reached its peak when Steve Jobs dies.  Cook has followed a route that is unApple.  The old Apple is never so active in research.  Apple used USB in the iMac and wifi in AirPort base station.  Both technology are not developed by Apple.  But both has benefited mankind in the most unimagined way.  Apple is working closely with SONY and making itself more and more like SONY.  SONY is a dying corporation.  It developed several technology that are best in class.  However, they are so expensive that consumers became repulsive to SONY.  SONY has not changed recently.  It is still an arrogant corporation. 

     

    To develop all technologies in house has a big drawback.  Even the most valuable corporation in the world can not hire all the talents in the world.  To those lucky to be hired by Apple, they obviously will work hard to outperform.  Then Apple will become arrogant to overlook the technologies developed by other companies.


     

    I think you need to study the history of Apple a bit further.  Dating back to the original Apple I & II projects, they have always tended to design things themselves when existing technology wasn't good enough (e.g. Wozniak's custom disk controller).  They also used SCSI instead of serial/parallel ports, and Firewire instead of USB for many years.  Jobs was notorious for shunning technologies he didn't feel were well-designed (even if they were cheaper).

     

    The only reason USB succeeded (and Apple finally relented) is because Intel ate all of the development costs and pretty much forced it to become the standard on PCs by making it artificially cheap for PC manufacturers.  Intel wanted USB to succeed because it requires very complex logic to control the bus, so it maintains their business model where connected devices need a CPU to communicate with each other.  Whereas Firewire didn't require a CPU to control the bus, the logic could be embedded in much simpler chips on the devices themselves.  Hence why you could connect things like cameras and TVs together without needing a computer.  But it didn't have a big company taking a loss to make it cheaper.  That's the reality of why USB succeeded -- it wasn't better by any means, it was just artificially cheaper.

     

    Anyways, to me, it's not a sign of arrogance to design your own technology, it's an attention to detail and care that most companies just simply don't have.  Sure, if there's an existing technology that works well enough, then it should be used.  But design-by-committee doesn't always lead to the best technologies coming to market.

Sign In or Register to comment.