At CES, Everyone’s a Keynoter

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One thing that people seem to have missed in all the hubbub over Microsoft saying that it’ll stop doing keynotes at the Consumer Electronics Show after 2012: Doing a CES keynote isn’t exactly a singular honor.

In fact, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer will have plenty of company when he gives his final speech next month. I count eight “keynotes” at CES 2012, some of which involve more than one keynoter. Among the other speakers will be the heads of Ford, Intel, and Mercedes-Benz and Qualcomm, plus folks from AT&T, Facebook, YouTube, Walmart and numerous other companies.

(MORE: Microsoft Says 2012 CES Tech Show Will Be Its Last)

(Being a keynoter at CES is, incidentally, an honor–but one that apparently involves forking over large wads of cash.)

Now, it’s true that the Microsoft keynotes are the famous ones–the ones with a sort-of-storied history dating back to the ones that Bill Gates gave for many years. If you ask someone if they’re “going to the keynote” at CES, the keynote you refer to is the Microsoft one.

I remain curious whether the CEA, the show’s organizer, will attempt to replace Microsoft with another company of similar significance. (When Apple pulled out of Macworld Expo after 2009, that show wisely didn’t try to slot someone else into Steve Jobs’ old spot.)

But I think it’s safe to say that CES 2013 and beyond won’t be starved for keynote addresses. Numerous tech execs will get to proudly say that they gave keynotes–it’s just that Steve Ballmer won’t be one of them.

Oh, and if CES does want to line up one superstar CEO to give the keynote-of-keynotes in 2013? Well, if we assume that Apple’s Tim Cook is unavailable, I vote for Mark Zuckerberg.

MORE: CES: What’s Next for Microsoft?