Apple does a lot of Research that isn't directly product-oriented, too; a quick look at their patent portfolio will show that.
Sorry, no. It may not be tied to products that they're currently shipping, but there's a huge spectrum between initial idea and final product, and Apple has far less investment towards the idea end of the spectrum than any of their major competitors. By the time you can patent something, it's already towards the product end (and have you actually looked at the Apple patent portfolio? They patented a more efficient take-away pizza box, for example, which doesn't really tell you anything about pure research spending).
But if you think that R that is D-oriented doesn't "count", you are nothing but an intellectual effete.
It doesn't count because it's playing accounting games. The line between development and product is very blurry. Apple classifies a lot of things are R&D that other companies count as product development. This inflates Apple's R&D spending on the balance sheet, but means that you can't really compare. R&D is a pipeline and things always have to start closer to the pure research end. Most of Apple's R&D is building on pure research done by other organisations. This has changed a bit recently (particularly in machine learning), but they're still a long way behind most other big tech companies on research spending. Microsoft, until they restructured MSR a year or so ago, had the opposite problem: they were spending over $5bn/year on research and turning very little of it into products. Neither extreme is particularly healthy for a company. You need the research end to feed the pipeline, but then you need the pipeline from research to product.
Disclaimer: I work in a university and collaborate with Apple, Google, and Microsoft on several projects.