CES 2011: A Keynote So Bad, I Felt I'd Been Had
After attending Samsung Executive VP Dr. Sang-Soo Kim’s keynote at SID last summer, I entered the Las Vegas Hilton Center just before 4:30PM last Thursday hopeful to hear more about the small- and medium-format OLEDs the company was showing off at the show (along with the large-format OLED TVs that the company kept hyping would be showing up real soon now). Considering that the CES keynote would be given by Boo-Keun Yoon, Samsung’s President and General Manager of Visual Display Business, my expectation didn’t seem to be off-base. But more than an hour later, I realized that all I’d done was waste 75 minutes of my life that I couldn’t ever get back.
I’ve attended plenty of ‘clunker’ keynotes in the past, but this was quite possibly the most bizarre presentation I’ve ever had the displeasure to experience. And I didn’t even get the free bag of carmel corn that some folks in the audience received. Plugged throughout was a mythical kid named Zoll, who also received abundant plugs at the company’s show floor booth:
Zoll has weird taste in clothing, weird relationships with the rest of his pretend family, and a weird obsession with technology…but hey, at least he can dance (weirdly). His eccentric, supposedly ‘hip’ sound bites and on-stage movements were matched only by those of Boo-Keun Yoon, who pretty much abandoned any pretense of doing product and technology pitches and instead rambled on (and on, and on…) about Samsung’s obligatory green leanings, attempts to improve on the beauty of nature, and technology’s enablement of human nature.
Whatever. Apple barely pulls off such highfalutin gibberish (and sometimes falls flat on its face…quick aside, Apple quit inviting me to intro events after that writeup was published), and ASUS certainly didn’t succeed with its bamboo-dominant attempt. Nor, come to think of it, has any other company whose non-product pitch I’ve auditioned. So what inspired Samsung to think it could deliver the goods when so many others have failed?
I thought that maybe I (and those around me, whose reactions I was monitoring) were the only ones flabbergasted by the spectacle, until I read Nilay Patel’s hilarious transcript of the proceedings. Money quotes, at the beginning:
Nothing continues to happen at a furious pace.
And at the end:
People here are basically racing towards the doors.
You can see the whole thing right here on the CES website (warning, delivered via potentially non-hardware-accelerated Brightcove player)…sorry, but the CEA doesn’t seem to want to allow video embedding here. Alternatively, Samsung’s posted it in six-part form on YouTube (apparently someone at the company’s proud of it…it certainly was mind-blowing, I’ll give them that):
…from whence Engadget’s Patel was gracious enough to extract a much shorter (7:32) highlights clip:
Dear Samsung, you make generally great products. And your CES show floor presence was, as usual, massive and memorable (in a good way). But your presentations? They need work. Lots of it. A humble suggestion, going forward: stick to the product and technology pitches.