This article shows something rather phenomenal; that Apple's R&D costs have fallen as a percentage of Sales whilst rising rapidly. Nonetheless they still rank only 45th globally in total spend.
The dip in spending in 1998 is due to Steve Job's "Focus" and; whilst pointing to Job's astonishing record is an old game, it really does show how important one individual can be to a pure technology company. Apple simply out-thought or out-innovated the competition.
And to put this in perspective, Apple's competition arguably includes all the other Silicon Valley superstar genius sky-rocket success stories.
So what can we learn? Perhaps not much about business but a bit about how important and transformative each of us can be.
As a final point of interest, a recent European Union R&D spending report found that 45 companies across the globe spent more on R&D in 2013 than Apple did. Note that Samsung in this regard checks in at number two on the list, followed closely by Microsoft and Intel.