Oh What a Fry Up

Celebrities, it seems, are like buses. You stand around for months waiting to bump into one, then three turn up all at once. So it was yesterday, even if two of the celebs were the same one twice.

Stephen Fry seems to be the default choice for any tech company wanting someone with a bit of street cred to glam up their proceedings these days, and so it was yesterday. First he turned up at the Microsoft Windows 7 Mobile launch to tell the assembled hacks how he had never had much time for Microsoft, but was nevertheless impressed by their latest stab at the smartphone market.

Fast forward a few hours, and here he is again at the T3 Gadget Awards, where I was a guest of Qualcomm. The main event was Jimmy Carr, who performed his MC duties with aplomb, hitting the audience with a string of very funny gags until, after a slow start, they gave in and laughed out loud at every one of them. By the time Carr took to the stage, however, Fry had done his bit again, with a 15-minute monologue in which he covered some of the same ground as he had done in the afternoon, but also touched on some new stuff. And I have to say, I was very impressed.

His idea of comparing an operating system to a home might have sounded a bit obtuse when he started out on the analogy, but by the time he was describing Microsoft’s various operating systems down the years in terms of a high-rise block of council flats with “p*ss-stained lifts and flickering lights” you could see where he was going with it, and it was a point very well made. Technology and gadgets should be less about features, and more about emotions, he argued, convincingly too.

I was also impressed by his grasp of technology, mobile and otherwise. This is a man who clearly loves stuff with plugs on, and is not afraid to tell the world about it. A brave move, too, by Microsoft, earlier in the day, to invite him on stage and give him free rein to say whatever he wanted.

As a guest of Qualcomm, the T3 event also gave me the chance to check out my ‘Intel Inside’ theory about the company. I have thought for a long time that Qualcomm has been adopting a similar strategy to Intel, albeit without spending millions of pounds on TV advertising. By continually hammering the gadget and the trade press with the same message – that what makes your phone so smart is partly down to the Qualcomm chip inside it – the company is trying to get to a point where a consumer’s choice of phone may hinge partly on whether it has one of the firm’s Snapdragon, or other, chips inside it. This was confirmed to me by one of my hosts last night, and while it may not be there yet, it looks to me like a strategy worth pursuing.

David Murphy