How do you offset a CES keynote with very little news? By falling back on a long list of celebrities and cliches.
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: