Santa Cruz’s Philippe Kahn starring in Super Bowl ad touting creation of phone camera

Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ – Super Bowl fans, some of whom enjoy the creative ads more than the game itself, can look forward to seeing a familiar face starring Sunday in one of Best Buy’s new advertising series that is highlighting 21st century mobile technology stars.

Rather than celebrities Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne, who represented Best Buy in a humorous Super Bowl spot last year, the company is banking on Silicon Valley technology pioneers such as Philippe Kahn, inventor of the camera phone, to sell its image.

Kahn, who is known locally as the founder of a string of successful companies – Borland, Starfish Software, LightSurf Technologies and most recently FullPower Technologies/MotionX – will be featured in an 83-second spot about the invention of the camera phone.

“It’s not like people hadn’t put lenses in phones yet but what I had done is basically built the first Polaroid of the 21st century, the first camera, the first phone that can point, shoot and share instantly,” Kahn says in the ad that pictures him in front of a wall of old cameras. “I’m Philippe Kahn and I created the camera phone.”

In the ad, which is viewable online at YouTube,, Kahn talks about how he sent the first photo via phone in 1997 to 2,000 people. It was a photo of his newborn daughter Sophie (sent from Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center, he added later).

“The ah-ha moment was really the moment I realized that 2,000 people were going to get that very first picture,” Kahn says in the ad. “This is 1997. The web was 4 years old then. We thought there would be applications to all sorts of things.”

Kahn goes on to talk about the many applications of the camera phone.

“Now what we’re doing is trying to use this to actually improve everybody’s life a little bit and make everybody happier and healthier etc.” he says.

Crispin Porter + Bogusky, a Florida-based large advertising firm created last year the Bieber/Osbourne ad, a Buy A Laptop Get A Geek ad, and a series of “Game On Santa” ads.

According to an article in Bloomberg Business Week, Best Buy wanted to depict innovators who could personify the technological prowess of the Best Buy sales force. The ad series will also feature Kevin Systrom, creator of Instagram, and Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square mobile.

Kahn said in an email Friday that people like the ad.

“One of the most impact full creations/inventions of the 21st century happened here in Santa Cruz,” he wrote.

As for his latest venture, “MotionX is booming,” he wrote. “We are hiring great software engineering talent: young people with fire in their belly who want to make a better world.”



This article appears here.


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