LAS VEGAS — Qualcomm took total advantage of its first-ever pre-International CES keynote, with CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs introducing star after star and still finding time to unveil the company’s latest Snapdragon processor.
Jacobs’s address marked the first time someone from outside Microsoft has delivered the traditional kickoff pre-CES keynote address. Jacob took over the reins from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer who, in turn, took center stage when Microsoft founder Bill Gates stepped down.
While the last several keynotes had lacked for pizzazz, Jacobs did not disappoint the crowd.
The first surprise guest was Ballmer himself. He dashed onto the stage to give a rundown on how Windows 8 RT works while running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
Jacobs then set the stage for the rest of the show by unveiling the Snapdragon 800-series processor. The 800 is designed for use in smartphones, tablets, computers and televisions. It is a quad-core CPU with each core running at 2.3GHz, enough power to download data at 150MBps, he said.
The processor supports Ultra High-Definition (UHD) video in both playback and record modes.
The first phones equipped with the 800 series will be out in the second half.
To help demonstrate the chip’s power, Jacobs brought out his first guest, director Guillermo Del Toro. Toro showed a clip from his upcoming monster movie “Pacific Rim,” which ran using a device based on a Snapdragon processor. He followed that with a clip from “Blade 2,” which he recently remastered in UHD. Del Toro warned the crowd that the clip would be a bit intense, and he was telling the truth: It easily took the prize as the clip with the most explicit violence ever shown to a CES keynote crowd.
Jacobs said the network will become severely constrained when UHD video starts gobbling up bandwidth, possibly requiring 1,000 times what is used today. Qualcomm is actively working to solve the problem, with one possible answer being mini-cell distribution points spread all over, including homes. This would dissipate the strain on the network.
To give an example of the type of content that will take advantage of UHD and the new apps coming down the road, Jacobs brought out NASCAR Sprint Cup Winner Brad Keselowski. He, along with Mark Jenkins, NASCAR’s digital media VP, demonstrated several new apps for TVs and mobile devices that will allow fans to personalize their race experience with in-car video, stats and general race data in real time on their devices.
The next celebrity, the biggest in size at least, to be brought out was Sesame Street’s Big Bird. The 8-foot-tall child favorite showed off a new app that will help kids learn to read. It is being co-developed by Qualcomm and The Children’s Television Workshop.
Although not as large in size as Big Bird, Jacob’s next guest got the audience buzzing. Alice Eve, a star in the upcoming “Star Trek Into Darkness,” came out to go over a new Star Trek app that will allow fans guess the movie’s plot. Eve, who plays Dr. Carol Marcus in the movie, refused to divulge any plot points despite being egged on by Jacobs.
Jacobs also went into the more serious work Qualcomm is doing to bring healthcare to people via mobile devices. A short video by Bishop Desmond Tutu praised Qualcomm for its work to help the indigent in Africa have access to quality healthcare.
Another non-traditional category Jacobs discussed was his company’s work in developing wireless battery charging for electric vehicles. The company recently ran a several-month-long test with a converted Rolls Royce that had the vehicle recharge using the Qualcomm Halo Wireless Charging System. The car pulls over a mat and the electricity is passed along conductively.
The keynote address wrapped with a surprise mini concert by three members of Maroon 5. The trio played a three-song acoustic set.