The historic war between Apple and Microsoft is world famous. In fact, in recent years, Apple has given a hard time to rivals Google and Samsung but in area of the research and development, Microsoft, Google and Samsung are way ahead than Apple.

According to the European Union ranking of the top 2,000 companies that invest the most in this area, Apple is on #46th; and there is a huge chasm in between Microsoft and Apple. Considering the report, critics attack the Cupertino, declaring it as not “so innovative.”

The report reads Apple spent an annual total of $3.5 billion on R&D, barely making to top 50 while Microsoft scored third place with $10.6 billion. Like last year, Samsung scored 2nd place with a total of $11.2 billion. The company of little green robot scored 13th position with 6.7 billion, leaving behind the Cupertino. Surprisingly, Volkswagen topped the list with 12.8 billion dollars.

The figures are difficult to understand, so the explanation could be equally complex. In recent years, Apple had been able to redefine two mass markets – one of smartphones and second of the tablets, the latter was practically irrelevant before the iPad stepped in the market – without investing heavily in research and development. Yet it beats competitors without any effort.

And, the most common question arises, “How is it possible?”

The first clue is the number of products that companies design and distribute. Apple has historically focused on the “little but done well,” and launches very few devices like the iPhone, the iPad and Mac. Whereas, rivals like Microsoft and Samsung are engaged in macro-universes of highly differentiated products. The more devices as well as a software company has greater investment in research and development. The second concerns the tendency of Cupertino in revolutionizing products and markets in an irreversible way. The Inventor of iPad and iPhone, has focused on the improvement of these two categories, instead of creating new products every year. A research and development of existing product costs much lesser compared to the design of a new device.

We should remember that Apple is making more money than its rivals in spite of investing such a less amount in R&D.

As Steve Jobs himself said, “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have … It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”