Qualcomm brought the stars out at its first pre-CES keynote speech.
CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs is only the third person to kick off the show (Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have done it every other year). And, perhaps realizing the pressure, he opted to punch up his discussion of the mobile generation with appearances by over a half dozen celebrities from the movie, music, sports and political worlds.
But he started with a nod to the past.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was the first to barrel onto the stage, quickly stealing the spotlight and almost turning Qualcomm's presentation into a marketing platform for Microsoft-powered mobile devices.
From there, though, the guest list got a lot glitzier, with director Guillermo del Toro, NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski, Sesame Street icon Big Bird, Archbishop Desmond Tutu (in a recorded message), Star Trek: Edge of Darkness' Alice Eve and pop sensations Maroon 5 all making appearances.
Star Trek: Edge of Darkness' Alice Eve and Qualcomm CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs during Jacobs' CES keynote (Photo: Chris Morris)
The company also unveiled the next generation of its Snapdragon mobile chip - which it says boasts a 75 percent performance increase over its predecessor. (The current generation Snapdragon powers more than 500 mobile devices on the market today.) The new chip, which will be in phones and tablets by the back half of 2013, will both play video in 4K/Ultra High Definition as well as record it in that format.
To emphasize that, del Toro showed off a clip from his upcoming Pacific Rim which was running off of a tablet equipped with the new Snapdragon 800 flagship processor. He also introduced a scene from an Ultra HD version of Blade 2 running on the platform.
Director Guillermo del Toro showcases the video capabilities of Qualcomm's new mobile chip, Snapdragon (Photo: Chris Morris)
"Snapdragon will let it be seen exactly as I wanted it to be seen," he said.
If del Toro's presence added geek cred to the keynote, Maroon 5's three-song acoustic set upped its coolness quotient. Three members of the band, including frontman Adam Levine, played "One More Night", "This Love" and "Payphone". (The full band will also play the company's CES party later this week.)
Maroon 5 is just one of several notable musicians attending CES. Monster brought out Sheila E. during its press conference Monday. And acts such as Ke$ha and Alicia Keys will play at parties later this week.
Maroon 5 perform (Photo: Chris Morris)
Big Bird crashed Jacob's keynote to pitch an upcoming app powered by Qualcomm technology. And Eve, who plays Dr. Carole Marcus in this summer's Star Trek: Into Darkness, also showcased an app for the film, which will let fans learn more by completing a series of tasks, before letting it slip that a new commercial would air during the Super Bowl.
Only Archbishop Tutu really focused on Qualcomm's "Born Mobile" theme, discussing the importance of mobile devices in emerging and impoverished nations saying "mobile is going to have transformative impact on the public health here and in Africa and all around the word."
Jacobs underscored the growing importance of mobile devices in today's world. The company's processors power more than 500 devices on the market today, with another 400 in development now, said Jacobs.
"Mobile is breaking down barriers and bridging the digital divide," he said.
He also he announced the launch of the Tricorder XPrize, a contest to encourage developers to create a small handheld medical scanner - with the winner taking home $10 million.
Big Bird! (Photo: Chris Morris)