commentary Steve Ballmer and his gang have just wrapped up the last keynote that Microsoft is set to present at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and, in my opinion, they hit the mark 100 per cent. Just not the mark you might have expected.
Ballmer and Ryan Seacrest embrace at Microsoft's last CES keynote.
Ballmer was his usual rowdy, flamboyant self, and, in an admittedly strange team-up with American Idol host and noted workaholic Ryan Seacrest, walked the attending crowd and those watching online through Microsoft's catalogue of products. Presentations included a Windows Phone demonstration, which saw the company trot out new handsets in the Nokia Lumia 900 and the HTC Titan II, followed by an Xbox 360 presentation, which focused on voice recognition, a demo of the recently updated Dashboard and two announcements about Kinect.
Ballmer said that the company had sold 18 million Kinect sensors in 12 months, and added that Kinect for Windows would drop on 1 February for US$249.95. Why is it $100 more expensive than the unit being shipped for the Xbox 360? That's another issue for another time.
Sure, there was some weird stuff in the keynote, including the tweet choir and Ballmer's maths, and I must admit, I was on Twitter having a laugh at Microsoft's expense. But to say that the company missed any sort of mark with its final CES keynote is not only wrong, but it also demonstrates that you haven't listened to anything that the company said pre-show.
Microsoft's VP of Communications, Frank X Shaw, said on the company's official blog back in December that 2012 would see the "last keynote presentation and booth at CES".
The withdrawal from CES wasn't for any malicious reason or falling out, mind you; it was simply because Microsoft's "product news milestones generally don't align with the show's January timing".
Microsoft added that it would rather make announcements at its own conferences throughout the year, like Build, Tech.Ed and its Worldwide Partner Conference, and why wouldn't it? At its own conferences, Microsoft isn't limited by an organisation like the Consumer Electronics Association, meaning that it can present news at its own pace and in its own style.
So, with that in mind, it's absurd to think that Microsoft would announce anything of real weight at its final CES keynote, right? Others disagreed.
"Microsoft CEO crashes and burns in final CES keynote," the Sydney Morning Herald declared.
"Next year, could they pick someone who will be able to paint the landscape they can see beyond the window — rather than inside Windows," said The Guardian.
"Thank God it was the last year," Engadget reported.
Don't be so ridiculous.
It's just this simple, readers: if you think Microsoft "completely missed the mark" with its keynote, that's because you bought into the rumours, the hype, the spectacle of idle gossip and what could have been. You built up a mark in your head for Microsoft to hit, which included such announcements as the next-generation console, believed to be the Xbox 720, of all things.
By doing so, you made the same mistake that thousands of people did last year when all eyes were on Cupertino, California, anticipating the still non-existent iPhone 5, the product that was meant to change everything for Apple's wildly successful iPhone. Instead, like we were always going to, we got the iPhone 4S, an incremental upgrade to the previous generation.
That announcement produced some pretty wild headlines, too, which contained similar sentiment that we're seeing today.
It was dubbed a failure, a flop and a disaster, even before said authors had even used the device for themselves.
If you were disappointed with Microsoft's final CES keynote, take a good hard look, because you have nobody but yourself to blame.