29 May 2015
IFA 2015 Preview Teases Imminent Launch of Mainland Counterpart
Attendees at a special preview event for the September 2015 IFA in Berlin were granted an exclusive insight into its organiser's plans for a spin-off standalone electronics and home appliances show scheduled for China in early 2016.
The IFA – one of the world's largest trade shows in the consumer electronics and home appliances sectors – is coming to China. Messe Berlin, the organiser of the German event, announced the forthcoming launch of its Asian iteration at a special preview of its September 2015 Berlin show.
Speaking at the preview, Dr Christian Göke, Chief Executive of Messe Berlin, indicated that the new show, expected to run in the first half of 2016, would be aimed at both Chinese manufacturers and Western brands. He said: "We are in the middle of the process, hopefully we'll be able to announce something more definite at IFA 2015. We will come up with a rather specific concept for China – it will not be a geo-cloning of IFA."
As with the launch of its travel show in Asia seven years ago, Messe Berlin will launch the new electronics fair as a standalone event. Currently, at least, it is not looking to partner with any third party.
The parent event is already hugely well established and Messe has high hopes of following its success. Last year, some 47,800 international trade visitors attended the Berlin IFA and the organisers hope to break the 50,000 visitor barrier this year.
According to Göke, there is expected to be around 149,500 square metres of display space at this year's event, about the same as in 2014.
In terms of exhibitors at this year's IFA, virtually all of the major consumer electronics players have already signed up. There is, however, one notable exception – Apple – with the Californian company once again snubbing the show.
Last year, the IFA debuted its new international congress format under the heading IFA+Summit – Next Level Of Thinking. Over two days, this saw speakers sharing trends and ideas for a digital future, under the headings of mobility, health, big data, home, design and new entertainment. This year, the formula is set to be further refined.
Explaining the proposed changes, Göke said: "At this year's IFA, the congress and conference events will be held under the heading of the IFA Think Tank. They will include the IFA International Keynotes, the IFA+Summit Congress, the IHS Conference, IEEE, TEDx Berlin and the GfK Retail & Technology Conference."
Overall, according to presentations at the preview, the trends set to dominate the 2015 event will be connectivity and the smart home, sustainability, energy efficiency and the conservation of resources, preparing healthy meals, easy-to-use controls, time-saving and, of course, outstanding design. Certain items that came to the fore in 2014 – notably television sets with elegantly curved screens – will continue to attract considerable attention this year.
Unsurprisingly, another prominent trend certain to be on show will be smartwatches, as well as other wearable devices. Overall, an entirely new range of smartwatches and fitness armbands are expected to make their debut this year, as well as a new generation of smartphones, complete with fitness sensors as standard features.
Despite the ubiquity of such devices, it is believed that energy saving will again take centre stage. Göke said: "Large and small electrical appliances are setting new standards in energy efficiency, sustainability and the conservation of resources. With each new generation of appliances, the manufacturers have improved on energy consumption.
"This is meeting with the approval of many users as there is a strong awareness of the need to manage water and energy carefully, while protecting the environment in general."
Commenting on the market trends in more general terms, Jürgen Boyny, Global Director, Consumer Electronics at GfK Retail and Technology, said: "Worldwide, we expect the current positive trend to continue in 2015 and anticipate 1.5% growth in the consumer electronics sector. The market for large and small electrical appliances is set to expand even more, growing by 3%-4%. This trend will continue into 2016."
In terms of specifics, Gerard Tan, Director of GfK Asia Pacific, said that consumer electronics audio and new screen technology were still continuing to grow across the region. He also said mobile hardware and connectivity was currently dominating spending on consumer tech devices.
Turning his attention to the East, he said: "Emerging Asia continues to be driven by connectivity, while the number of middle-class consumers continues to rise, as do their expectations and needs."
According to Tan, some 566 million additional connected devices were sold in the Asia-Pacific region between 2010 and 2014. Focussing on the likely consequences of this, he said: "The impact of social media in emerging Asia continues to push up sales of mobile devices, with camera apps becoming 'the hardware' as technology progresses."
The IFA 2015 will run from 4-9 September at the Berlin Exhibition Ground, Berlin, Germany. The HKTDC is organising a Hong Kong Pavilion for companies that wish to attend the event.
Simon King, Special Correspondent, Berlin