John C. Dvorak on Google I/O 2013: Worst Keynote Ever

Written by John C. Dvorak

John C. Dvorak has seen a lot of keynotes in his career. But the opening keynote at Google I/O 2013 was the worst one ever, he says. Here are all the reasons why, beginning with the lack of announcements, dorky demos and … the repetitive use of one stupid word. Commentary. It’s John C. Dvorak for commentary — I had the misfortune of watching the entire 3 hours and 36 minutes of the opening Google I/O 2013 keynote, highlighted by the fact that apparently nobody at the company can manage to look presentable.

Now I know why IBM has a dress code.

It’s not as if a bunch of guys in Brooks Brothers suits would be something I want to see. But looking like you just rolled out of bed or wearing purple outfits isn’t good, either.

The worst part was, this wasn’t a real keynote at all. It was actually an endless series of lame announcements for various improvements to the ever-enveloping Google universe. There were just a few new product additions and plenty of failed demos. (ED: FIND a full list of what Google execs announced at the keynote at Google I/() 2013 here)

Before I get to the so-called announcements, let me give some advice to some of the presenters. If you have a black background, do not wear black. It makes your noggin look like a floating head on stage. Not good.

Also, Google needs to get a clue and do what Apple does, which is put applauding stooges in the audience. I mean, there was a lot of lame cheering, yes, but there was nothing like what happens at an Apple event where the hooting and yelling is masterful and raucous and obviously planned.

For example, when one of the presenters showed the Google-ized version of the Samsung S4 there was some cheering. But then when the presenter blurted out the price at over $600 — better get one today! — there wasn’t a peep. Zero peep. There wasn’t even any clapping as nobody, including the Google employees, seemed impressed by the crazy price.

But the same price would  have brought a huge round of applause if Google had done an Apple move and put a few shills in the audience. That way the moment would not have been so awkward.

I was forced to watch this event and much of the goings on at Google I/O 2013 over the Internet. This is because Google would not get me a press pass no matter who I tried to contact. I found this disturbing.

Then again the company is, in my opinion, in the process of creating a Google World that bars anyone who is not marching lockstep to the company.

The good news is that by not attending I will not get one of those Pixel Chromebooks they are going to hand out to all the attendees. Thank god. There always is a silver lining.

And, curiously, watching online is actually better because you can stop the stream and repeat key items to make sure you are right when you think to yourself, Did he actually just say that?

The online watching also allowed me to count how many times speakers used what must be the Google-approved keyword at the conference. That word was: Amazing.

It’s as if nobody can dream up another adjective. Everything was amazing. Every single thing. Nothing was astonishing. Nothing was even astounding. There were no fabulous, fantastic, outrageous, glorious, glamorous, none of them. It was all Amazing.

At the end, when Larry Page came out, he could not go two sentences without saying amazing. I suspect the whole company has gotten into this habit. I tried to count how many amazings I heard but after a few minutes I gave up counting. There were too many.

This reminded me of Microsoft with the keyword it used for awhile, which was: Innovation.

But Page was the worst when it came to using the word amazing. And here’s what made it all the worse. During a Q & A session after he spoke, he actually bitched about overuse of the word. Then he went on to use it over and over. Amazing.

Was anything important announced? Not really. Most of the keynote was out and out bragging. The company bragged about its growing user base for a good hour in total. Then we heard about its new gaming platform. It looked terrible. In one demo it didn’t work at all, and a slew of people had to be ushered off the stage. Another demo showed one of the most herky-jerk demos I’ve ever seen. Then they showed some lame racing game that was so primitive it made me wonder why they were showing it in the first place.

The big winner, though, was something they called Okay, Google. Or as it should be called, Siri 2. You say, “Okay Google” into your Chrome browser and it opens up a mic.

Then you can ask a Siri-like question and Google Chrome speaks back to you. This is going to be fun to test over the next month or two.

There was also an improvement in the look and feel of Google+, in the litany of enhancements presenters mentioned in this supposed keynote. It does look improved, but now Google+ adds a creepy face — and landmark recognition systems that must have been originally developed for the CIA.

The last thing worth noting is the new Photo app that fixes and organizes all your pictures for you. This includes a dubious feature whereby you can take 10 pictures of a group and somehow the app will put smiles on everyone’s faces even if they are not all smiling in all the pictures. This will be another app that will not work as advertised, I’m sure of it. It’ll be amazing if it does work and amazing if no one complains about this.

There will be plenty of reports on the various initiatives. I’ll try and figure out the ones that are actually important. And there has to be something everyone missed in the three hours and 36 minutes of lectures that Google, amazingly, called a keynote.

For, I’m John C. Dvorak.


  • I’m pretty sure Jesus F’ing Christ him / her self could have been up on stage giving a keynote on the new features of “Heaven 2.0” and JCD would have said the same thing. Little in life pleases this man anymore, he has been jaded by the industry lol.

    That’s why we enjoy him so much.

  • What did you think of all the people wearing glass? Are they in on the joke?

  • Actually, the fact that it wasn’t all slick and perfectly packaged, including moments of authenticity like the lack of clapping, was one of the things I liked about it.

    Your complaints about not getting a press pass are a good clue as to your dislike of this keynote. The pro-Apple tech journalist from my local paper got a press pass, so I don’t think it is a matter of rejecting non-sycophants.

  • I have never read a post that made the writer sound like more of a petulant child. “Hmph… nobody dressed very nice and they didn’t have fake clappers in the audience and the games weren’t cool enough and they wouldn’t give me a press pass and they said “amazing” too much and…” Seriously, if you couldn’t find anything good in that keynote maybe you aren’t the super journalist you seem to think you are. Why don’t you try smiling every once in a while. Life isn’t so bad.

  • Here’s why you didn’t get an invite: 212 twitter followers, 290 likes on Facebook, no comments ever on any G+ shares. Generic Woothemes WordPress template.

    You’re not real media. Your network is virtually non-existant. Probably only popular with a small group other Google haters.

    But I’ll give you props for writing an article with enough angst towards Google that you got me to comment on it. That’s a success. Probably means that you’re getting some pretty high pageviews on your site, so that’s a positive.

  • cant say i agree with everything, but this is hilarious. :)
    I swear I remember every keynote from Apple mentioned one adjective in particular over and over. . . .”magical.” Remember that?

    Good stuff, though!

    -RAP, II

  • John, I didn’t see this one, but really “the worst ever?” Worse than a Rod Canion keynote at Comdex? Or any pre-Melinda Bill Gates speech?

  • By the sound of many of the comments here, it seems that The Borg has been successful in assimilating them… Left, right, left, right…lock step…

    Resistance is not futile.

  • The ‘Luddite Tech Journalist who thinks everything in tech sucks’ act, in a desperate attempt to get page views, got tiring some time ago. Conversational search is pretty amazing. Google will be keeping Bing at bay for awhile. But yeah, some geek wore the wrong outfit.

  • Yea nice article jcd or whatever your name is.. it made me wonder if they fired all the goal setting ham fisted mummy touchers at google and crapple and just moved a few chinese guys that did a bit of software updates and bugfixes for a few years no one would know, possibly it could be an improvment, thxox