CES 2013: Hey Qualcomm, you forgot the tech

Did you hear? Qualcomm's keynote featured Steve Ballmer, Big Bird, and 'Star Trek' -- too bad no one remembers the tech

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Could it get weirder? Yes, it could. After a presentation from Nascar, Jacobs trotted out Big Bird and a game designer named Dave wearing a "birdketeer" costume, complete with feathers. I felt really bad for Dave -- yet another promising career swirling down the tubes. Who else could follow an eight-foot bird but Archbishop Tutu? The Nobel Peace Prize winner appeared via a pre-recorded video clip, talking about the benefits of "m-health."

At least they didn't make him wear a birdketeer outfit.

Next up, a clip from the upcoming "Star Trek" movie, "Into Darkness" (yes, I've already purchased my tickets). The Trekkers are using Qualcomm's Gimbal "context awareness platform" for its mobile app. Jacobs followed that with an awkward onstage conversation with actress Alice Eve, who's featured in the film. (Did I mention I already have my tickets?)

The keynote mercifully ended after about 80 minutes with a performance by pop band Maroon 5 -- minus two members, so it was technically more like Maroon 3. But because CES apparently didn't have the rights to broadcast the band's music, people watching the livestream of the event on the Web got a soundtrack from Dido instead.

It was a perfect ending to a perfectly surreal night.

OK, I get it. The late Steve Jobs set a high bar for dog-and-pony shows. Everyone feels like they have to amp up their presentations with vampires, eight-foot-tall birds, and hot actresses. Maybe it has something do with being in Vegas, the combination of oxygen and sleep deprivation, neon leaking into the water supply, and proximity to Area 51.

But the truth is that you don't need to hit these extremes. CES is a technology show, after all. The people who go there, as well as those who follow it from a distance, are more than comfortable with that fact.

Jacobs' keynote was highly entertaining, but not in the way Qualcomm probably intended. Today's technology is amazing and allows you to do pretty awesome things. Sexing it up and dumbing it down is just insulting to our intelligence. If nothing else, that bizarre performance shows how poorly Qualcomm understands the people who use its products.

Is technology now sexy enough to stand on its own without all the cheesy Vegas glitz? Let me know what you think below, or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "CES 2013: Hey Qualcomm, you forgot the tech," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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