Intel CEO pitches product hits, misses making a point

7 January 2015 by Steve Blum
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Krzanich drones on.

I didn’t give Samsung CEO BK Yoon enough credit for his keynote address at CES on Monday. Big ideas and industry leadership were front and center; product plugs were sparse and unnoticeable. You might disagree with his ideas and be unimpressed with his leadership, and dismiss it all as self serving, although I wouldn’t. But he filled the true role of a keynote speaker by showing his audience his vision of the future.

The contrast with Brian Krzanich, last night’s keynoter, couldn’t be starker. Instead of thinking, the Intel CEO came out selling, and kept on pitching one product after another for an hour.

It’s not that he didn’t have some useful things to say. He’s right to point to new ways of interacting with, controlling and powering devices as a major trend, and wearables and increasingly intelligent devices – autonomous drones, for example – as boundary-breaking product categories. But instead of saying something interesting about what it all means, he launched into one product demo after another.

Cool stuff, to be sure. Using wearables to augment human senses – particularly for the visually or otherwise impaired – will be a huge benefit to people, as well as a likely breakout product category in a rapidly ageing society. Products are important, particularly at CES, and tangible proof of concept gives credence to ideas.

Krzanich ended on a corporate social responsibility high note. He announced an Intel initiative to hire, promote and retain more minorities and women – a response, he said, to the gamer-gate controversy and the recent release of dismal industry hiring stats.

He hinted at a vision, and could have used his time to try to speak eloquently and maybe inspire the industry. Instead, he chased drones around the stage.