IFA Executive Director, Jens Heithecker looks back on another successful show

As IFA draws to an end, the numbers attest that 2019 was another excellent year, more than a quarter million visitors, and some 4,7 bn euros in orders. We caught up with Jens Heithecker, Executive Director, IFA to find out the whole story behind these figures.

When one considers the situations in different markets, IFA 2019 has been an amazing success. Retail structure is changing all over the world, distribution is changing, the industry is in heavy competition and is challenged by different issues. Taking account of all this and then seeing that we had the same number of trade visitors overall, and even more international trade visitors than last year, that means we have brought in people from other industries.
This is the proof of an amazing success. Innovation speaks for itself. It is coming in from all different industries and is then combined to create new and different concepts. IFA is a very positive environment for the industry and is the best platform to communicate about new products and ideas.


5G was the big thing at the start of the show. Where do you see that going?

For me, 5G has the same importance or strength as buzzwords like IoT and AI in previous years. It is an extraordinary new technology that is really arriving on the market – rolling out around the world. We are seeing the arrival of a “pervasive connected world of devices” and the ubiquitous usage of connected solutions by consumers whatever they do. In this sense, we talk about “new mobility”, with devices controlled remotely or even “talking” among themselves, so it appears evident we need new communication technologies. 5G is the standard of the future and that’s why it has been so important this year at IFA, with top level discussions about technical advances and rollout, and getting our first hands-on experience with it. Visitors to IFA have been able to try the new 5G mobile phones, and that’s only the start. 5G will be very important when it comes to new mobility concepts, especially for autonomous cars, because the data exchange will need to be much faster than what had been possible up until now. In other words, it’s not just about faster media downloading. That is of course one of the great advantages for consumers, it’s also about the world of connected devices that will increasingly come into play in the next few years.

What has surprised you the most this year?

Despite all the new products, despite the success of the keynotes, the IFA+ Summit, SHIFT Automotive, the first-time trade visitors from all around the world, it is about headsets. I was not aware that for the manufacturers of headsets, the new standard usage is not in the airplane, it’s not in the city, it’s not in the train; it is at home. There was already a trend towards different media usage by different members of the family. Now it’s not just separate TVs or other screens, it’s music as well. We live more and more in metropolitan regions, in small apartments in noisy environments and if you want to enjoy music, the new solution might not be a loudspeaker; but headphones. For me it was a revelation. The incredible sound quality and wearing comfort of today’s headphones mean that the standard use has changed.

Photo: Jens Heithecker, Executive Director, IFA