Cringeworthy keynotes at conferences are not new news. Nor are keynotes light on substance, and incoherent in messaging. Sadly, Qualcomm’s combination of all of the above, at its first ever CES keynote hit a low and almost ludicrous note; getting people talking… for all the wrong reasons.
Qualcomm was supposed to be taking the baton from Microsoft, which has for years held the opening CES keynote. In 2012, Microsoft announced it would be taking a break from the consumer gadget show, leaving center stage to Qualcomm’s CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs. Or, at least, that’s what should theoretically have happened.
Instead, just minutes into the keynote, who was to make an appearance on the Qualcomm stage? None other than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer himself, who seemed to forget it was not his keynote, expounding on in his inimitable, enthusiastic charismatic style. Jacobs stood by, almost like an assistant, or extra stage hand, as Ballmer did his thing and stole the show.
The cynic in me was not surprised. After all, Qualcomm was late to ship with its Windows RT implementation, and the product has fast been losing traction. Frankly, it was more exciting as a concept than an actual product, and it’s clear that Microsoft was doing its damndest to prop it back up from its slump. Intel needed no such support for its own Windows 8 offerings.
Once Ballmer eventually left the stage, Jacobs announced what would be the only news of the night, the already predicted launch of its slightly upgraded series of processors. No big whoop. They are slightly better, slightly faster, slightly lower power. If this is what passes for CES keynote news these days, it’s not surprising the big players are rethinking their commitment to the show.
But what better way to deflect a lack of news than a slew of random celebrity cameos and awful marketing speak?
First, we were told all about the new generation… Generation M. As if that wasn’t enough to make you roll your eyes, Qualcomm is also coining a new phrase; “born mobile.”
Another gem from Qualcomm’s marketing department is “the Internet of everything,” which I can only assume is the firm’s attempt to one-up every other company in the industry talking about the “Internet of things.” Is the Internet of everything better/different/new? No. But it did make me snort.
When you’re pulling an “Internet of everything” and targeting kids from the cradle to buy your products, I suppose it’s not a big stretch to bring Big Bird from Sesame Street out on stage after Ballmer either. Or follow that up with a video link from Desmond Tutu to praise Qualcomm’s health initiatives. But that’s all a little serious, so, look left! It’s the actress from Star Trek whose name nobody can remember. Not star worthy enough? Quick, let’s pull the pop band Maroon 5 on stage before our young audience loses attention and needs to pop an Adderall.
I wish I was exaggerating. I’m not. In fact, I skipped over a fair amount of the crazy-ness and long list of unnecessary guests, from Nascar drivers to film makers.
Qualcomm, if you had some solid news, there would be no need for all the theatrics.
For those who want to watch the whole crazy show, the YouTube video is below:
Some CEOs are just not dynamic speakers, perhaps Qualcomm could have picked someone else to deliver the Keynote speech. I too question the cameo appearance of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, why would the keynote speaker invite another CEO to his keynote? I normally do not attend these sort of events and as such have little reference to base my observations upon, that said, perhaps Qualcomm will rethink the keynote speaker for next show. Qualcomm typically (in my experience) plays things very close to the vest and I would be surprised if they disclosed anything major at CES. I must say that I am impressed with their Snapdragon product and look forward to future offerings from them.
"it’s clear that Microsoft was doing its damndest to prop it back up from its slump. Intel needed no such support for its own Windows 8 offerings."
What's the point in this snipe? Snapdragon has been an immense success and Qualcomm's LTE modems are second to none. Meanwhile, Surface Pro still hasn't shipped, Clover Trail's release was also late, and has been plagued with terrible graphics drivers and flaky wifi. On top of that, Intel's laptop and desktop shipments are down so dramatically that they had a $1bn revenue shortfall earlier this year. Maybe Intel *should* have taken some support for their offerings?
Most journalists take facts from a few sources and question what they're told, to come up with some form of analysis. Almost all other news websites have managed to report this keynote as weird and misguided without the unnecessary slating of the company behind it. Sylvie, your articles are consistently a pro-Intel stream of misinformation. Can't you get some basic journalistic integrity and start reporting things as they are, or at least questioning things against your own knowledge?
I wouldn't call this a "keynote." Or at least, it's nothing like any keynote I ever saw. This is more reminiscent of opening ceremonies at the Olympics (well, slight hyperbole there). It's an act, pure and simple, with multiple participating skits as part of the show.
That's why there wasn't a lot of info there. But there was some.
If the new Qualcomm Dragon incorporates a fast quad core processor, as claimed, then we're soon going to see upward pressure on PC and laptop processing power, once again. I think the reason there hasn't been this upward pressure in the recent past is because all those mobile devices were busy catching up. And the software developers were creating software that could run on these slower mobile devices.
So my prediction is, that's about to change.
I find it interesting that the organizers would allow such a dynamic speaker an opportunity to interject during the keynote speech (unless I am missing something - I was not at CES). It would be unusual for the planning of the keynote speech to purposefully allow others to upstage the main speaker; bringing in lower key speakers with relevant insights would make more sense. I would file this under the "What was really going on here" category. Perhaps, there is / was more going on than the average attendee knew and that in hindsight, there was a method to the madness?
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.