The Name Is Snapdragon
I explained earlier in the week that I’d never been to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
But that didn’t preclude me from taking in some of the Vegas geek chic tidings from afar, and last evening, take in some, I did.
For the last many years as people can count, Microsoft has been the keynoter that opened the show. But this year, Microsoft decided they had better places to show their wares, so Qualcomm was offered the opening keynote spot.
Qualcomm, yes, the mobile wireless chip manufacturer.
That’s where things got weird.
And it’s also where the Internet memes started going wildly out of control. I saw some early coverage coming from CNET and the Verge that suggested Qualcomm’s event was going off the rails. Smelling blood on the prosceneum, I ran as quick as I could to the scene of the crime.
When I saw that Qualcomm had posted the full webcast (even before the full event could have been over), I decided to go and watch for myself.
Now, mind you, I’ve seen a lot of keynotes and speeches in my time, and even participated in content development for some, and so I have a lot of respect and admiration for those who effectively pull off such techno theatre.
And after watching the Qualcomm webcast end-to-end, there’s no question there was quite a bit of the theatre of the absurd.
It was a Daliesque technology dog’s keynote breakfast.
From the “Born Mobile” theme that spawned some semi-talented Generation M-sters spouting how they’d die if they lost their mobile oxygen, to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer apparently changing his mind and returning to CES long enough to hijack the Qualcomm stage to tell everyone how wonderful Windows8 mobile devices were, to some Sesame Street Theatre and kid’s mobile apps to help them learn how to read (where were those when *I* was a kid?!), to director Guillermo del Toro demonstrating how Qualcomm technology had helped make his movies come across even more brilliantly using Ultra HD, to NASCAR to Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Maroon 5 (the rights for whom someone failed to get for the online audience…DOH!)…oy vey, I’d like to have seen some of IBM’s keynote handlers unleashed on this one.
But let’s not forget, this wasn’t theatre intended to have some Shakespearean denouement with a three-act structure and staged fight scenes. You want a fancy, well-produced show, head down the Strip and take in a Cirques du Soleil show or David Copperfield’s illusions at the MGM.
If you were just interested in learning what one of the leading mobile wireless manufacturers had to offer in its latest products in the marketplace, well, you could actually learn a few things. I did.
In fact, as something of a mobile aficionado, I was surprised to learn how much I didn’t know about this key player in the mobile sector, and the Qualcomm keynote, despite some if its failings, I think delivered on the most important, bottom line component of a major tech keynote: to inform and educate me about its products and capabilities, and to set a strategic vision and tone for who they are and where they’re going.
Though “the vision thing” may have been made more murky by the Heinz 57 cast of characters, at the end of the 80 minutes, that itself was a statement, that their mobile technology was impacting all kinds of various and sundry lives and industries.
The information in the keynote also spurred me to want to go read more about SnapDragon and some of the virtual reality technologies Qualcomm’s been working on.
Because though at some points you may very well cringe, and though may not be nobly entertained, you will also learn a few things about Qualcomm’s recent chip and related technology breakthroughs — none of the details of which seems to have found its way into the Verge’s keynote coverage.