LAS VEGAS--In a very unusual keynote address Friday, Google CEO Larry Page urged the consumer electronics industry to make life easier for consumers by standardizing things like power supplies.
Most keynotes are simply opportunities for company executives to hawk their own products and agendas. And to be sure, Page made sure to promote new Google initiatives like the Video Store, a pay-per-download repository of video programming like NBA games and Charlie Rose shows.
But the opening of the talk--in which Page arrived on the back of Stanley, the Stanford project car that won the 2005 Darpa Grand Challenge, and later argued for more standards--was unusual. And, given that Page is the less excitable of the company's founders--him and Sergey Brin--so was his slow, measured delivery.
That was more than offset when actor and comedian Robin Williams took the stage about midway through the talk. Williams proceeded to pretend to be a so-called "Google Brain," providing witty and deadpan answers to search queries from Page.
After several minutes of that--with the standing room only audience laughing constantly--Williams left and Page announced Google Video Store. He talked about how Google is partnering with CBS to provide the network's content via the store. And then Page welcomed CBS chief Les Moonves onstage to talk about the arrangement.
Page also singled out San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, who he lauded for his efforts to make gay marriage legal in that city.
Another celebrity visitor was NBA star Kenny Williams, who joked about the availability of NBA games. He also helped to "translate" Page's answers to a series of audience questions.
All told, the keynote was surely one of the oddest to grace a CES stage in some time, but even so, it was also probably one of the best received.