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Nokia is top spender in R&D, says Berstein Research, has little to show for it though

Research and development, or R&D, is the most important department if you want innovative products – it’s where tech breakthroughs are made. So, how much a company spends on R&D should be a clear indicator of how much “innovation” each company has.

Well, reality begs to disagree with my common-sense argument – Apple, arguably one of the most innovative companies in the world, is last but one in terms of R&D budget, while Nokia (which hasn’t been so hot lately) spends the most…

Symbian^3 is hardly a revolution compared to the Symbian^1, a.k.a. Symbian Series 60, which has been around forever (in tech terms). So, where is all this cash going – MeeGo, Symbian^4, what?

The analysts at Bernstein Research reckons that the Finnish company spent $3.9 billion, or nearly three times as the competitors spend on average. The breakdown is quite interesting – Symbian overall gulps down more cash and human resources than any other component, including hardware development, MeeGo and QT.

They also suggest a strategy – keep Symbian because too much has been invested in it already, try to conquer North America with MeeGo instead of Symbian, and cut down costs by introducing a unified development system (made possible by the QT platform).

That’s contrary to many analysts who recommend ditching Symbian and going for Windows Phone 7 or Android. Bernstein Research says that Android is no go – Nokia’s services depend heavily on Symbian and Nokia might lose its partners if it makes the switch.

Either way Nokia goes, a real comeback is not to be expected for at least a couple of years.

EU’s Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard has interesting numbers to share too – Nokia and VW are neck-and-neck in the race for top R&D spenders in the EU. The 2008 scoreboard has Nokia as the EU company that spent the most for R&D, while the 2009 and 2010 scoreboards have it second, behind VW. To put things in perspective, Nokia consistently spends more on R&D than Intel, Ford and the rest of the European top dogs.


EU Industrial R&D investment scoreboard (Legend:

Check out all the scoreboards here (download the scoreboard and look under Top R&D investing companies).

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