CES 2018 keynote speakers draw crowds, criticism

People attend CES 2018 on Tuesday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

People attend CES 2018 on Tuesday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

As he’s done for The Daily Record in years’ past, Frank Gorman of Gorman & Williams is guest blogging from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

In past years, CES had a small number of impressive of keynote speakers, most of whom drew large audiences. CES 2018 is different because of criticism there are no women in the top tier of keynote speakers. As a result, Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association, shuffled the deck and expanded the “keynote” designation to provide a more diverse line up of keynote speakers.

Top-tier keynotes

The three top-tier keynote speakers Brian Krzanich of Intel, Jim Hackett of Ford, and Richard Yu of Huawei. Karen Chupka, a senior vice president at CTA, made a short address Tuesday morning right after Shapiro’s welcoming remarks.

Brian Krzanich returned to CES as a keynote speaker for the fifth year in a row. He began his Monday evening address at the CES Tech South headquarters at the Monte Carlo with the promise that the Meltdown and Spectre security defects recently discovered in Intel microprocessor chips manufactured over the past five years will be corrected by software updates to be issued within several weeks. With this defensive statement out of the way, he was more upbeat about Intel’s microprocessor chips he said will continue to unlock the power of data in healthcare, autonomous driving, and mobile connectivity.

Hackett, the CEO of Ford, spoke Tuesday morning at the CES Tech West headquarters at the Venetian, his first appearance at CES as a keynote speaker. He connected mobile digital solutions in automobile transportation with the vision of smarter and environmentally cleaner cities, as well as the promise of electric vehicles.

Yu is the CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, a Chinese technology firm that aims to be the world’s top smartphone manufacturer. Yu, speaking Tuesday afternoon, said Huawei needs a partner to break into the US market. (It’s no accident, then, that Yu spoke at CES 2018.)

5G mobile innovation keynote

This “keynote” event Wednesday is really a panel discussion, a gathering of tech executives in companies leading the way in the development of 5G mobile networks. 5G, the newest generation of the global wireless standard for mobile broadband technology, is being rolled out in self-driving vehicles, health care, smart cities, and other applications that use information and communications technologies.

Sue Marek, vice president of content and editor-in-chief of SDxCentral, will be the moderator.  Marek is a career journalist who has reported on the telecommunications industry for many years. Her company, SDxCentral, is a business-to-business media tech company that delivers IT landscape news, but also performs research and analysis. Marek will moderate the 5G mobile presentations of three men:

Dr. Qi Lu is the vice chairman and COO of Baidu, a Chinese company headquartered in Beijing.  Baidu is a web services company with an amazing range of services – the world’s eighth-largest internet company, mobile search engines, mobile processors, mobile maps and more. Baidu is developing 5G mobile applications including a vehicle-related artificial intelligence. Baidu recently announced a collaboration with Qualcomm to support artificial intelligence voice applications in digital devices.

Cristiano Amon was recently appointed president of Qualcomm, a leader in 5G development.  The thrust of 5G innovation is fast, intelligent, and connected devices – – not just a few but millions of devices. Qualcomm sells to and supports smartphone manufacturers, and it sold to Apple most of the modem chips for the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6. High-profile lawsuits between Qualcomm and Apple, however, caused Apple to send half of its chip business to Intel. Amon will have significant challenges in 2018, making his CES presentation important.

Hans Vestberg is the executive vice president in charge of network and technology at Verizon,  which plans to launch 5G high-speed Internet service in three or four U.S. markets this year. The 5G network launch will be a major test for Vestberg as Verizon strives to maintain its dominance over rising T-Mobile and acquisition-minded AT&T.

Future of video

This is another panel discussion Wednesady, but not labeled as a keynote. MediaLink is the sponsor of the event which will have eight panelists plus a moderator.

The focus of the discussion is how streaming content is affecting the entertainment industry, a development known to most of us as we stream our entertainment content over the Internet rather than use TV channels, cable providers and movie theaters. Millard is vice chair at MediaLink, a strategic advisory and business development firm serving clients in the media, advertising, and entertainment businesses.

The nine panelists are Aryeh Bourkoff of Liontree (banking and investment); Charles D.  King of MACRO (film production); David Zaslav of Discovery Communications; Kristin Dolan of 605 (audience analytics); Marcien Jenckes of Comcast; Michael Kassan of MediaLink; Nancy Dubuc of A+E Networks;, and Robert Kyncl of YouTube. A word about several of the several of the panelists:

Charles D. King is the founder of MACRO, which creates and finances film, television, digital content, technologies and brands which are driven by people of color that encompass universal themes. Kristin Dolan is the founder and CEO of 605 who has 30 years of experience in media and entertainment, much of it with Cablevision. Nancy Dubuc, president and CEO of A+ E Networks, worked at NBC, The Christian Science Monitor and the History Channel before joining A+E.

The CTA’s more generous use of the “keynote” label and other re-packaging at CES 2018 did not quiet the criticism from female advocates. The main characteristic of a keynote address is that the audience for the speaker comes from the entire community of attendees, rather than a more limited audience of attendees who are primarily interested in a segment of CES such as TV, mobile or video.

The fact remains there are no women giving top-tier keynote addresses. As the women described in this article demonstrate, there is no shortage of female talent and experience for top-tier keynote speakers. Better luck next year, CES.

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