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Guillermo Del Toro, Microsoft Crash Qualcomm’s CES Opening

Hollywood helps the chipmaker avoid talking about…computer chips


Qualcomm turned to Hollywood, NASCAR and even Microsoft‘s Steve Ballmer to spice up its opening keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday, highlighting their latest processors that will  make mobile devices much faster and visually sharper.

“Pacific Rim” director Guillermo Del Toro joined Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs to show a clip of his new robot epic from Warner Bros., streaming it from a tablet that uses a new Qualcomm high-speed chip. Jacobs was showing off two new generations of Snapdragon, a processor that will power mobile devices like phones and tablets up to 75 percent faster than its predecessor.

Del Toro was a fan. “Snapdragon ensures the film you see will be viewed exactly as I want it to be seen,” Del Toro said. “When you’re watching a great film, you want a great experience.”

Jacobs' keynote was the kickoff to the annual electronics show that attracts more than 100,000 in the technology and electronics industry to Las Vegas, focused on the latest in technology and consumer electronics devices.  

Qualcomm's chips may be amazing, but they are hard to illustrate — even to an audience of hard-core geeks. Instead, Jacobs invited out Microsoft chief Ballmer – whose company has long owned the opening-night slot – to gush over his company’s latest line of tablets and smartphones.

Sales of Windows Phones are up 400 percent over the year before, and 500 percent the week of Christmas, Ballmer said. The phones are powered by Qualcomm's chips, of course. 

Jacobs trotted out an eclectic mix of different celebrities, from NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski to “Star Trek” actress Alice Eve, demonstrating how his chips are driving new experiences across the cultural landscape.

Keselowski showed off a NASCAR app that lets diehard fans follow specific drivers during races while Eve talked up a new app for the upcoming “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” 

Even Sesame Street fit somewhere in between with Big Bird hawking an app that helps preschool kids identify words.

All of the guests were there to talk about how new mobile technologies and apps. The theme was very much geared to Qualcomm’s "Born Mobile" campaign, which was the hashtag of the evening.

On stage, Jacobs listed the ways in which mobile is transforming the world, noting that there are now more than 6.4 billion mobile connections worldwide and more new smartphone users each day than babies born.

“There are almost as many mobile connections as people on earth,” Jacobs said. “Pretty soon mobile connections will outnumber us.”

As scary as that is, Jacobs still leaned on Hollywood for his final act – a performance by Maroon 5.