re: $649 iPhone 5s Costs Apple $199
"Sadly, Apple does not spend that much for R&D anymore."
There were actually a bunch of articles last month that said Apple was modestly increasing R&D spending. They're supposed to have a ton of people working on a smartwatch, which could explain some of the upsurge.
Anyway, looking at Apple's R&D spending as a percentage of their profits doesn't tell the whole story.
Apple's profits have exploded over the last decade. Insane, insane growth. This is naturally going to drive down the percent of R&D:profit ratio.
Suppose, for example, that one year, Apple made $5 and spent $1 on R&D. The next year, suppose that Apple made $50 but spent $2 on R&D. In this scenario, R&D actually increased by 100%, year over year, but as a share of profit, it dropped from 20% to 4%.
This is an exaggerated example, of course. And I also have been a little disappointed when I see that Apple's marketing budget has increased so much faster than its R&D budget. But the ratio of R&D to profits can drop even if R&D and profits are both increasing; it just means that R&D isn't growing as fast as profit.
In other words, I don't see anything that implies "Apple does not spend that much for R&D." In real dollars, Apple seems to spend more on R&D than ever. It's only the percentage that has dropped, and though it would reassure some Apple fans to see them invest more in research, this sort of drop isn't the same thing as actually spending less.