By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
November 6, 2008

Of all the reporters who have tried to slog their way through Apple’s 100-page Form 10-K for fiscal year 2008, nobody has done a better job digging out nuggets of news than AppleInsider‘s Prince McLean. (We got bogged down in the page-turning boilerplate of the Risk Factors section.)

What did Mr. McLean discover? Here are his highlights:

  • A shift in business strategy. From “digital lifestyle” products to “high-end hardware solutions” for “enterprise, government and creative” markets.
  • A big push in retail. Apple now has 247 retail stores, up from 197 in 2007, aimed at reaching people who “do not already own the Company’s products.”
  • A huge investment in R&D. Spending for research and development has nearly doubled in three years, from $535 millionĀ in fiscal 2005 to $1.1 billion in 2008.
  • A lot more air miles for Steve Jobs. Jobs was reimbursed $202,000 for company use of his private jet in 2006, $776,000 in 2007 and $871,000 in 2008. As a rule of thumb, the more time Jobs spends in the air, the more deals with overseas vendors Apple cuts.
  • An increasingly global outlook. The share of Apple sales made in the United States fell from 60% in 2007 to 57% in 2008, reflecting the company’s accelerating expansion beyond our borders.
  • A lot of new hires. The headcount of full-time equivalent employees jumped nearly 50%, from 21,600 in 2007 to 32,000 in 2008. Temps grew nearly as fast, from 2,100 to 3,100.
  • A pair of golden handcuffs for Tony Fadell. As he leaves Apple, the man who made the iPod will receive an annual salary of $300,000 to act as a Special Advisor to Steve Jobs, as well as 77,500 shares of restricted Apple (AAPL) stock that vest on March 24, 2010 — provided Fadell doesn’t jump ship before then.

You can download Apple’s Form 10-K here. You can read McLean’s full summary here.

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