Editor's desk: Training dragons

Editor's desk: Here there be dragons

Been a busy week, so I'm going to rock the bullet points, Phil Nickinson style.

  • The picture up top is from last night. I went to see the live version of Dreamworks' How to Train your Dragon, and to say it was spectacular would be to do it a disservice. They combine 20 projectors (at $100k a pop), an incredible wire rig, and several full sized, brilliantly realized animatronic dragons into something you truly have to experience to believe. Watching Toothless take off did indeed make me believe a dragon could fly. If it comes to a city near you, check it out. And if you're up for it, stick around and meet the dragons afterwards. They're state-of-the-art-of-FX, and will not fail to impress.
  • Apple vs. Samsung is winding down in the U.S., but Motorola vs. Apple is picking up. While some may wish everyone involved would just cut it all out, they're big businesses and big money is involved, and until there's patent reform and much better precedent, it isn't going anywhere, any time soon. That being said, there's no way in hell I'm going to be writing about them everyday. We'll carefully pull the great stuff, like the iPhone and iPad prototypes, and highlight anything of significance, or that might have industry-wide ramifications, but otherwise we'll cherry pick the start and end points carefully.
  • As promised, we're continuing to roll out iMore 2.0 features. Here's the latest -- you can now subscribe to comments and get email alerts only when someone responds to you, or when any new comment is made on a post you've subscribed too. Consider it a beta for now, but try it out and let me know what you think of it.
  • So Twitter tightened the ropes on 3rd party client developers one step further this week. I've already given you my opinion, and linked to what other journalists and developers are saying. But to drive it home a little more sharply, I plan to crank up my app.net and Google+ activity from now on. Good services turn bad only when users sit by and do nothing. So I'll be doing something over at app.net as @reneritchie and Google+ as +Rene Ritchie for change, how about that?
  • The iPad mini looks like it's the real deal, but while we've learned it's going to be announced on September 12 alongside the iPhone 5, we haven't heard when it's going to ship yet, other than "October" (and that was a long time ago -- schedules can and do change). We also learned it was going to be $200 to $250, but that was back before the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7 failed to achieve any significant traction in the market. So here's the next big question -- when exactly will the iPad mini hit store shelves and what exactly will be the price?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Editor's desk: Training dragons


Awesome! Thanks for the heads-up on the Dragon show, Rene! And what luck, the show is in Pittsburgh this week! Now to check for tickets for me and the lady... thanks again.

We were planning a trip to Columbus in Oct. Pretty cool it'll be there at the time. My daughter loves that movie.

I've been following iMore since it was called TIBP(Correct me if I'm wrong), finally decided to become a member tonight! LONG LIVE iMORE NATION!

I really like the new features on iMore 2.0, especially the thread notifications. I wish Android Central had this too.

September 12 is just around the corner. Soon, all the rumors and speculation will be over and reality will kick in. Let's hope that Cook finally WOWs us with something more than a Retina screen.

I wouldn't hold my breath on that. I think the hardware will be better than we think, once we have all the details. But, other than some nice add-ons for a new and even better camera, and maybe Video Stream backups to iCloud, I wouldn't get my hopes up. Apple spent all of its time and resources on other things, like Maps (a massive undertaking for them, even if the end result only seems like an app swap out to us) , smoothing out iCloud some more, getting Siri moved toward full release, Retina MacBooks Pros, and Mountain Lion.

I personally feel that Apple has reached a turning point. I think that they are now stretched too thin at their current employment level. Apple has a TON of workers when you just look at the numbers, but thanks to all of the exposure given to their retail side in the past two months, we have seen that the vast majority of those employees work in Apple Stores. They have a relatively small staff of engineers, programmers, PR, and directors for the vast array of software and hardware that they produce. Very soon, Tim Cook is going to have to make the call whether to stick with Steve Jobs vision of smaller teams and running more like a start-up, or expanding to meet the demands of an ever-growing products and services catalog.

Sticking with the start-up path would involve cutting some of their current line-ups in favor of core products and services. This definitely wouldn't be popular, but it might be prudent. Expansion, on the other hand, could mean possibly altering the formula that got them where they are today. Neither seems like an easy decision, but I do not think that their current position is sustainable. They can't be expected to churn out yearly updates to iOS and OS X, yearly hardware refreshes of all mobile and most desktop products, while also keeping all of iTunes and iCloud running smoothly. This doesn't even take into account them possibly getting into the TV business, whether on the hardware or service end, or both.

To me, it just feels like Apple ran out of time for new features in the new iPhone, and most especially in iOS 6, once they checked their own boxes off the list. That left a lot of the users, especially loyal power users, boxes left for next year. This year's jam packed hardware and software release cycle, combined with the lackluster iPhone and iOS refresh, are the best evidence that Apple is just plain overloaded right now.

Re: "... and until there's patent reform and much better precedent, it isn't going anywhere, any time soon. "

Don't hold your breath, anyone.

Re: "This year's jam packed hardware and software release cycle, combined with the lackluster iPhone and iOS refresh, are the best evidence that Apple is just plain overloaded right now."

And what, exactly, is the rush? Do you think Apple needs to "innovate faster" or something?

Oh, and have you tried out the "new iPhone" already and determined that it is, in fact, "lackluster"? Or is your post just a classic "concern troll"? (Look it up in Wikipedia. You nailed it.)

Call me whatever you want, but Nokia, Palm, and Blackberry fanboys probably used to scoff at fellow concerned users, too. Complacency and playing it safe yield little innovation. Being overloaded can result in innovation becoming sporadic, which is more what I am suggesting.

While I haven't held hardware in hand, I've been using the iOS 6 beta since the day it was released, and the fact that I didn't have to do a restore of my phone data and all of the app as part of the upgrade told me everything I needed to know. It is a minor bump that has no effect on any core functionality of the OS. As for the new phone (which unless Apple has pulled the biggest con in the history of tech, is already known top to bottom), it looks good. I'll personally be happy with it. But there isn't anything about this device that will grab the attention of the public like the iPhone 4 did. Nothing. No buzz here. Remember when Apple used to OWN the buzz in the tech world.

Look, I'll have an iPhone 5 on launch day, and it will sell like crazy. it may set every recod in the book. But, if Apple comes out with an iOS 7 that's as short on new, headline grabbing-features as iOS 6, existing users will get bored. That's how humans work. People get bored with what they know.

After saying all of this, you really missed the point of what I was saying, anyway. It isn't that Apple doesn't innovate anymore. Just look at Mountain Lion, the new Retina MacBook Pro, and the screen and battery life of the New iPad. There is a lot going on in Cupertino. I'm just asking the question- can Apple at its present size, continue to innovate on ALL fronts at the same time. Say what you want, but compared to what we've seen in the past, this year's phone upgrades are pretty pedestrian. Apple has a MUCH smaller non-retail staff than Samsung, Google, or Microsoft, but are taking on all three of those companies in their core businesses, while Apple makes more hardware and software and offers more services than two out of the three on the list. How is that sustainable?

The iPhone isn't the only place you see this lag, either. Last year's pass on the iPod Touch (the ultimate gateway drug for iOS) has seen it's market share decrease. Who knows if we will get a new one this year. That device used to be on a yearly cycle. Apple has sat on the early distance it created with the 2nd Gen Apple TV, while Microsoft has far outpaced them in media deals and content on the Xbox. It still sells well, but it isn't the best box in town anymore. Even the Roku is step for step with Apple. Now I fear they will also sit idly by while small systems like the OUYA exploit the sub-console big screen gaming opportunity Apple created with AirPlay Mirroring, but never bothered to make usable. If you've never tried it (and I have plenty), it's a beautiful dream, but a pain in the ass in reality. If nothing else, the support for the OUYA and media attention shows that there is a lot of interest in this opportunity. Apple is RIGHT THERE. A few additions and changes, and they can own that market. but there they still sit, in the same spot for a year and a half.

The current version of Apple is awesome at throwing new features out there, but it would be great to see them actually FINISH a few, rather than become the butt of media jokes. iCloud and Siri, almost one year later, certainly come to mind. I love them both, but they are not fully usable in all areas yet. Even an Apple fan should be able to take off the glasses long enough to see that. If not, go read the Apple Developer Forums on iCloud implementation into apps, and see what you find. So, sure, Apple comes up with all kinds of neat stuff. They are the most valuable company in the world now. Great. mazing. But will they keep on innovating and churning out great new ideas and products if they are swamped by the ones they already have that they either can't keep up with or can't seem to fix? I'm not saying Apple is about to fail. I am just hoping they will hire some more top-notch people to execute on the vast array of stuff they have going on. If you read the tech press, you know that they aren't as aggressive as Google, Amazon, and Facebook at going after talent. At least not in volume. If you don't believe me, go look at the numbers yourself.

But I'm just a "concern troll," so what do I know. Keep drinking the cool-aid man. Nothing to see here.