How is this year’s IFA shaping up? We put the question to IFA Executive Director Jens Heithecker…
We are excitedly looking forward to the show – IFA is evolving very well. Brands, markets and innovations have been the focus of this constantly growing trade show for almost a hundred years. In 2017, there are more innovations than ever and IFA is still on a growth path. The halls on the exhibition site are fully booked once again.
This year, however, we also want to implement a structural growth. On the exhibition site you will find the novelties of the brand manufacturers, from world brands to high-quality specialists, from products to accessories to service providers. The B2B area is growing in the international halls, and the OEM/ODM manufacturers get an exclusive new home with IFA Global Markets outside at STATION Berlin.
How are you finding industry sentiment at the moment?
The pressure on the industry is unbelievably strong: price competition, and new disruptive distribution channels are some key indicators for this trend. The one and only escape is to innovate. New products drive the markets. Consumers shall in the best case experience and adopt these innovations. Our mission is to be the most significant and effective platform for industry and retail to reach consumers. IFA is the industries’ global indicator, reflecting trends, the state of the economy and market health. Especially in rough years, it is important for certain countries and their consumer electronics and home appliance industries to present themselves at IFA to take advantage of the positive effect and the Christmas sales season.
Which product categories appear to be the “sweet spots” at the moment?
A “sweet spot” is definitely Smart Home. Whether in the kitchen, in the living room or in the office, the transfer of hightech to the world of consumers is increasing exponentially. This also applies to the entertainment electronics in the living room, health care and wellness, the car and mobile devices, services like the Internet of Things or even new categories such as drones, virtual and augmented reality. Smart Home and the resulting digitalisation combine and shape our entire lives today.
Please tell us more about the new additions to the show, such as droidcon Berlin and IFA NEXT.
With the positioning of research, development and start-up partners at IFA NEXT, Hall 26 will turn into an inspiring Innovation Hub for the first time this year. IFA presents no less than global know-how and visionary ideas for the smart design of the digital future. We are pleased to finally be able to combine the IFA Keynotes, the IFA + Summit and selected IFA Hosted Conferences with the associated exhibition area at IFA NEXT. It gets particularly visible what Consumer Electronics represents for years: creativity coupled with inspiring innovations.
Droidcon Berlin, taking place from September 3-5 – for the very first time at IFA – is the perfect complement by strengthening our IFA portfolio in the software segment. Android plays a pivotal role in the increasingly important connected home and we are thrilled to have another partner conference on board.
THE TRANSFER OF HIGH-TECH TO THE WORLD OF CONSUMERS IS INCREASING EXPONENTIALLY
How is the IFA Global Markets concept evolving?
In recent years we have become the world’s largest and most international CE trade show by the number of trade visitors. This development means that IFA is even more attractive for B2B exhibitors, both for retailers and distributors, as well as for trade visitors and related industries.
IFA Global Markets is particularly targeted at trade visitors and focuses on OEMs/ODMs and specifically nonbranded manufacturers. The rented display area of IFA Global Markets will be doubled in 2017. I think this indicates best how the concept has evolved. And we have further optimised and expanded the content framework to trade visitor tours, business days, matchmaking meetings, Global Markets Expert Talks and an International Suppliers Park.
The IFA+ Summit is another “not to be missed” event. What will the highlights be this year?
The big trends of digitalisation are global challenges. At the IFA⁺ Summit, running under the theme “PLUG IN-spiration,” trendsetters and visionaries from all over the world will convene on September 4 and 5. More than 30 renowned speakers from Europe, Asia, the USA and Canada will showcase their newest results and knowledge on Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Virtual and Augmented Reality and Smart Home Systems. Attendees will get a chance to meet high-profile masterminds such as: Erica Warp from San Francisco who will introduce the neuroscientist and artist researches methods to channel the power of the human brain. As the Vice President of Product at EMOTIV, she has developed some of the most impressive technologies in the field of neuro-engineering.
Fabrice Rousseau from Luxembourg works at Amazon to improve the company’s personal assistant Alexa – and in doing so faces some of the most important questions of our time in regards to artificial intelligence.
Thomas Wallner from Toronto is an award-winning movie maker. He is a leading figure in the creation of 360° technology in motion pictures. Avner Halperin from Tel Aviv is a physicist and entrepreneur, co-founder of the digital health company EarlySense and lecturer on the High-Tech Industry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His goal is to use efficient and competent patient monitoring to generate data that enables clinicians to get new insights – and these are just three thrilling examples of what to expect at this year’s IFA⁺ Summit.
This year, there are some exceptional speakers lining up for the keynotes. Please tell us a little more.
Undoubtedly a special highlight is our Keynote Line-Up 2017, which provides personal insights of world-leading CEOs such as Pieter Nota, CEO of Philips; James Park, CEO of Fitbit; Huawei President Richard Yu and Terry Myerson, Nick Parker & Peter Han from Microsoft will be on stage demonstrating the new era of innovation. I am excitingly looking forward to our IFA Keynotes 2017.
Photo : IFA Executive Director, Jens Heithecker