Inside Bespoke Manufacturing Equipment (Long)
Most people have absolutely no idea how much manufacturers spend on specialized and bespoke equipment and customizations to existing equipment. Seeing as how designing and manufacturing that equipment is what I do, I've got a pretty good idea.
While the Apple spend is huge, it's not unreasonable. When you're looking for solutions to manufacturing challenges you try to buy OTS kit that will meet your needs, but when that doesn't exist you're looking at an enormously complex, and expensive, process (incidentally, the search for OTS equipment is why so many finished products in a given category are so similar, everybody's using basically the same machines).
When we design and build a machine for someone the entire (post RFQ) process generally takes many, many months of modeling and simulation to identify how to meet the clients specs before we even start considering how to build machine to do it. Then there are many destination site visits and infrastructure analysis before the actual machine design even starts. A few months later we'll have a prototype machine that we'll use for final validation as well as the basis for operation and maintenance manuals and calibration tools. Then we'll start building the machine.
While the machine is being built we're lining up logistics for getting it to the client (including designing & building custom shipping enclosures, escort services, arranging for road closures (including an Interstate once!), removal of street lamps and signs, modifications to the destination facility, the list goes on and on).
Once it is built and installed we train their staff and the maintenance portion of the contract begins. We'll support the machine for as long as the client wants. Parts availability is based on customer requirements. Some people don't order spares and have them made on demand, most request a certain level of parts in inventory at all times so we'll warehouse them or ship multiples direct to the client and they store them. That's an incredibly summarized sequence of events. There are countless completely custom steps in there that have to be created on the fly for each new job.
All that to say, if you're performing a process nobody has ever performed before it is very, very expensive. It isn't uncommon for only the design of complex bespoke machine to exceed a million dollars. Building, delivering and maintaining that machine can easily exceed $10m in upfront costs with parts and service being an ongoing and similarly expensive process.
The Apple figure certainly includes maintenance and parts expenses that will be spread over the expected lifetime of the machines, it won't all be spent now.