Apple is forecasting just over $10 billion in capital expenditures (CAPEX), basically on buying or improving the stuff they use to make the stuff we buy. Bloomberg:
To get a jump on rivals like Samsung Electronics Co. and lay the groundwork for new products, Apple is spending more on the machines that do the behind-the-scenes work of mass producing iPhones, iPads and other gadgets. That includes equipment to polish the new iPhone 5c’s colorful plastic, laser and milling machines to carve the MacBook’s aluminum body, and testing gear for the iPhone and iPad camera lens, said people with knowledge of the company’s manufacturing methods, who asked not to be identified because the process is private.
I've tried, with mixed-results, in the past to explain why only Apple is able to build iPhone 5s-class devices, the patience it takes, the investment in manufacturing and logistics, the cost involved in bringing the future into the present, but this puts numbers on it, and the numbers in context.
Robots, lasers, those just sound cool, but Apple is mixing old techniques with newly invented ones, often side-by-side on the same product line. From Apple A7 chipset to iPad Air to the new Mac Pro they're spending a small fortune to make an even larger one. Or, as Horace Dediu is quoted in the article:
Apple deploys capital as a competitive advantage
Conceivably, other wealthy companies could decide to do likewise. They could even be pressured to. That's what I'm hoping for, because I'd dearly love to be able to get iPhone 5s-class devices from multiple companies. I'd dearly love for that to become the next great consumer electronic battle ground. Because it benefits us.
Go read the article, then let me know what you think.