16 Oct 2015
IFA Confirms China Companion Show as Connectivity Still Booms
This year's IFA event saw the formal launch of a sister show in Shenzhen, while the IoT, energy efficiency, increased capacity, an ever-expanding array of digital products and even bigger TVs continued to draw the crowds in Berlin.
After strong speculation, Messe Berlin used this year's Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) event as the launch platform for Consumer Electronics China (CE China), its new trade show for consumer electronics and appliances. The new event will take place next April in Shenzhen.
Jens Heithecker, Executive Director of IFA at Messe Berlin, said: "This will be a brand new show for Chinese retailers and consumers. Chinese retailers are not only domestic retailers, but they have branches in other countries, including Hong Kong and Japan. With this show in Shenzhen, we'll look to attract retailers across Asia."
Although Heithecker would not be drawn on the dates for CE China, it is expected that the three-day show will run around the fourth weekend of April 2016.
Heithecker said: "The first CE China show will be around 30,000 square metres. We are optimistic about the show and, if we are successful with the first show, it will become a long term project, taking place every year, around March or April."
Aside from that, connectivity, capacity, energy efficiency and innovation were the key themes at this year's IFA. A snapshot of some of the key product launches, innovations and future technologies on show in Berlin provides an intriguing view of the current state of the industry.
The Internet of Things
In consumer electronics, Samsung demonstrated how it is taking the Internet of Things (IoT) from conception to reality. This saw the company showcase a range of new connected devices and IoT services.
Dr Won-Pyo Hong, Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung, said: "For Samsung, IFA 2015 is all about the Internet of Things. We are certain that IoT will revolutionise the world of consumer electronics, and this is our opportunity to update you on how far we have come in just a year.
"No organisation is better placed to ensure that the latest industrial revolution is driven not by technology, but by people's expectations. Our vision is of an IoT that's 'In Sync With Life'."
New Digital Experiences
Sony Corporation President and Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai, meanwhile, introduced a number of the company's newest products, including High-Resolution Audio and mobile. He also championed the new experiences that can be had with Sony's other offerings, including its digital imaging products and TVs.
Hirai said: "I believe there is still great potential for innovation within consumer electronics. At Sony we'll continue to make advances that make life better and provide consumers with true wow experiences."
The event saw Sony showcase its range of 4K BRAVIA TVs, including the 65-inch/55-inch X90C series, which Hirai cited as the slimmest LCD TV in the world. The unit measures approximately 4.9mm at its thinnest point.
Tetsuro Homma, President of Panasonic Appliances Company, was also on hand to preview the latest line-up of the company's 4K VIERA TVs. This included its new TX-65CZ950, which features a 65-inch OLED screen.
Homma said: "The CZ950 delivers the ultimate in high picture quality with high contrast and rich colour expression, faithfully reproducing the director's vision."
Also unveiled at IFA was Panasonic Nubo, the world's first mobile monitoring camera that makes monitoring possible in places without Wi-Fi connectivity.
Chinese Brands Gaining Share
During the course of the show, Chinese brand TCL showcased its latest display technology products, including its Curved UHD TV H8800 and 110-inch Curved set. Warren Wang, General Manager of TCL's Multimedia Overseas Business Centre, said that TCL products are currently sold in more than 20 European countries, with the company having a branch office in France, its largest market in Europe.
He said: "TCL holds a market share of 8.4% in France, while overall it ranks number four in Europe, after Samsung, LG and Philips. TCL plans to further expand its presence in European countries, bringing its bigger and smarter UHD products to customers."
Another Chinese manufacturer, Hisense, claimed a first for the TV market with the launch of its ULED (Ultra LED) technology, which is said to offer the kind of deep black only seen on more expensive OLED TVs.
Unveiled at the show, the proprietary Hisense development is based on LCD displays with LED backlighting and a 4K UHD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. It is available on the brand's new ULED 2.0 TV – the 65-inch 65XT910.
Innovations in Home Appliances
Whirlpool used its first-ever participation at IFA as an opportunity to exhibit its new competitive offerings, following its US$1 billion acquisition of the Indesit Company at the end of 2014. With this in mind, the company showcased its KitchenAid, Bauknecht, Whirlpool, Hotpoint and Indesit brands.
Not to be outdone, German brand Siemens unveiled its first complete range of connected products, introducing more than 170 product innovations. Among the highlights was what Siemens billed as the first connected refrigerator with interior camera, as well as its new sensoFresh technology, for fresh laundry without the use of water.
Roland Hagenbucher, Chief Executive of Siemens Hausgeräte, said: "Connectivity is the new form of organisation in the 21st Century. It is already pervading broad areas of life today as an invisible infrastructure, making many things possible in the home that were previously inconceivable."
Staying with German manufacturers, Miele launched its 'Inspired by Life' tagline at IFA, backed by a number of key product innovations. The company's Co-proprietor and Executive Director, Dr Reinhard Zinkann, said that the company was now focussed on offering better value to customers in terms of better features, rather than "being caught up in discount wars" with other brands.
Key new products unveiled by Miele at IFA included TempControl induction hobs, which ensure the correct temperature is being maintained at all times thanks to sensors embedded in a ceramic screen. The company also presented the world's first networked dispensing system for washing machines.
Addressing its own aspirations, Sühel Semerci, Managing Director of Beko Germany, said his company would open a plant later this year in Thailand in order to service the Asian market. According to Semerci, the company's "consumer-centric and eco-conscious approach" was reflected acoss various new products at the fair. The company's new built-in dishwasher (DUN28331X), for instance, is the first to automatically dose detergent, ensuring that only the required amount is used during the wash cycle – helping to save both the environment and on cost.
Chinese brand Haier also unveiled a number of innovations across its wide product portfolio at the event. Yannick Fierling, Haier Europe's Chief Executive, showcased the new Intelius 2.0, a 12-kilogram capacity washing machine with an A+++ -50 per cent energy efficiency rating. Fierling said: "For the 696 series, a stylish and wide screen can be used to activate a choice of 26 washing programs, with 16 washing programs for the 686 Series."
The Haier Duo washing machine was also unveiled. A dual drum washing machine, it is said to be the first of its kind, with an A+++ -30 per cent energy efficiency rating. It can be managed via a digital user interface, with internet connectivity allowing it to be remotely controlled via a mobile device.
Haier also unveiled the Cube Series fridge-freezers, which can be divided into three compartments.
Meanwhile, Dyson announced that it had committed investment of £1.5 billion (HK$17.6 billion) to future technology, including £1 billion for research and development into new product areas. This significant investment includes a £200 million expansion of its manufacturing in Southeast Asia.
Sir James Dyson, the company's Founder and Chairman, said: "We're quickly growing across Asia, and it's phenomenal to think that we are now number one in the home of technology – Japan."
IFA 2015 took place at Messe Berlin from 4-9 September. The event will return to the same venue from 2-7 September 2016.
Simon King, Special Correspondent, Berlin