Ballmer makes a surprise appearance at CES

It may not have been sexy but Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs delivered a great CES keynote and added the element of surprise last night in Las Vegas.

That surprise was an appearance by Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer. CES attendees lamented over the fact that Microsoft was no longer doing the keynote at CES. To Jacobs’ credit he gave the people what they wanted. As Jacobs was getting into his outline of Snapdragon 800 out came Ballmer to the surprise of many. It was unexpected, it was executed brilliantly and it worked because it got the crowd in a buzz and it has industry pundits talking and writing about him today.

But that wasn’t the only surprise of the evening. Jacobs welcomed onto the stage Big Bird from Sesame Street. Big Bird was much maligned this year because the character was used by the U.S. Republican party and by presidential candidate Mitt Romney as an example of spending cuts needed to be made to reduce the U.S. federal budget deficit. Big Bird was on the stage to show off a kid’s app called Big Bird’s Words.

Big Bird, again, was a nice surprise that worked. Another smart addition was Mexican film maker Guillermo del Toro, who showed a clip of his new horror movie. He was there to show off how the movie viewing experience is improved on a tablet device. Jacobs also aired a poignant discussion via video tape with South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu on digital healthcare which is a big topic at this year’s CES. Qualcomm also had a B-list actress named Alice Eve who will be in the next Star Trek film and NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski. Not sure why they needed to be on stage but it’s been the norm the past CES keynote's to have at least one celebrity from Sports, Hollywood, music, politics and business at this event.

As was pre-announced earlier Maroon 5 closed the keynote and they rocked the house. So while Jacobs did not deliver on sex-appeal he did perform well in the substance department and at the end of the day that’s more important.

Two quick hits before I go. You have to hand it to IT Weapons, solution provider extraordinaire. The Brampton, Ont.-based company raised more than $8,000 over the holidays to support a local charity. According Jeremy MacBean of ITWeapons, the employees choose a local or regional group to direct its Movember and Christmas fundraising to. This year ITWeapons client services rep Jennifer Parsons just came back to work after being declared cancer free. Jennifer took a leave of absence to beat cancer so the company asked her to choose the charity of her choice. Jennifer chose Cancer Assistance Services of Halton Hills or CASHh. CASHh is a local support organization that helps cancer patients in the region. They link people with counselors. They also do little things such as help chemo patients find wigs or drive people to their treatments. ITWeapons also reached out to the community and asked their vendor partners to contribute raffle prizes. All the money raised was then matched by ITWeapons founders Ted Garner and Jason MacBean.

Roy Taylor has been appointed the new AMD channel chief. Taylor was a long time nVidia executive and was recently running a start up along with doing some guest blogging.

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