Apple to lavish $10.5B on production line tech

The company wants to automate manufacturing tasks for iPads, iPhones, and more, says Bloomberg.

Apple's iPhone 5C.
Apple's iPhone 5C. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple plans to spend billions next year to automate certain tasks in its production line.

The company recently revealed in its 10-K filing that it has earmarked $11 billion for capital expenditures for 2014. Out of that amount, around $10.5 billion will go toward product tooling, manufacturing process equipment, and corporate facilities and infrastructure, including information systems hardware, software, and enhancements.

Specifically, much of the spending will be on equipment that can tackle the mass production of iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, among other devices, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

Citing "people with knowledge of the company's manufacturing methods," Bloomberg said that the automated gear includes machines that can polish the plastic finish on the iPhone 5C, carve the MacBook's aluminum body, and test the camera lens on the iPhone and iPad.

Cutting more exclusive deals with makers of automated machines, Apple intends to place the gear in the factories of its manufacturing partners, many of them in Asia, the sources said.

Apple certainly has more than enough cash to spend on these automated processes. Excluding spending on its retail business, the company's fiscal 2014 capital expenditures will be 61 percent higher than the amount seen in 2013.

Part of the goal is to outspend Samsung and other rivals on such gear.

"Apple deploys capital as a competitive advantage," Asymco analyst Horace Dediu told Bloomberg.

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About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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