Spotlight: Europe's largest consumer electronics fair IFA opens in Berlin

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-06 19:23:55|Editor: Wu Qin
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Visitors compare the image quality of an 8K television with a 4K television at the booth of Sony during the 2019 IFA fair in Berlin, capital of Germany, on Sept. 6, 2019. The 59th Consumer Electronics Unlimited (IFA) fair, Europe's biggest consumer electronics show, opened in Berlin on Friday, with the latest products and innovations from the leading global brands. (Xinhua/Shan Yuqi)

BERLIN, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- The 59th Consumer Electronics Unlimited (IFA) fair, Europe's biggest consumer electronics show, opened in Berlin on Friday, with the latest products and innovations from the leading global brands.

"We have grown again in terms of the number of exhibitors, which means that more companies with more ideas and more products have come to Berlin," said IFA Director Jens Heithecker.

This year's IFA, taking place from Friday to Wednesday, would accommodate 1,939 exhibitors on around 163,900 square meters, according to German IFA fair Director Heithecker. Last year, goods worth a total of 4.7 billion euros (5.2 billion U.S. dollars) were sold at the fair.

In addition to the exhibition, industry leaders would be giving a series of lectures at this year's consumer electronics fair in Berlin.

At the Shift Automotive conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, experts would discuss forward-looking mobility concepts, according to IFA.

The so-called IFA Next innovation laboratory would also be taking place for the third time, "where innovative companies, research institutes and start-ups can show their ideas for the future," the German fair organizers announced.

For the time in the history of IFA, a partner country, Japan, would have its own pavilion where Japanese companies would be presenting their products, IFA Director Heithecker said.

Some of the major trends that will be seen at this year's IFA included new, high-definition televisions and wireless sound boxes that can be networked with each other.

Although other big trends like artificial intelligence, voice control and 5G networking could be found at this year's IFA, the fair "still represents TV devices," said Heithecker.

The television screens were getting bigger and bigger given that resolutions of 4K or 8K guaranteed a sharp picture. In addition, televisions today were highly complex computers.

"One can really test, ask and see these things here to make oneself fit for the next technological steps," noted Heithecker.

Smart home technologies were also expected to feature prominently at the IFA in Berlin, covering networked devices from light bulbs to washing machines to loudspeakers.

According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), 6 million of the approximately 65 million internet users in Germany used smart home technology in the first quarter of 2019, or about 9 percent of Internet users.

Nonetheless, the technological developments would be accompanied by an economic headwind in the consumer electronics industry.

"We hope that the IFA will provide us with a tailwind, because the products of the industry will once again be in the limelight," said Roland Stehle, spokesperson for gfu, the association for the promotion of consumer electronics in Germany which co-organizes the fair.

"On the other hand, business usually picks up in the second half of the year, due to the Christmas season," noted gfu spokesperson Stehle.

According to the German market research institute GfK, sales in the classic consumer electronics sector fell by around 7 percent to 3.9 billion euros in the first six months of the year.

TVs were particularly affected as although screens and resolutions were improving continuously and most televisions were now networked smart TVs, German consumers were not prepared to dig deeper into their pockets, the GfK found.

Moreover, the German digital association Bitkom predicted that sales of equipment such as televisions, digital cameras, audio systems and game consoles would fall by 7.7 percent in the current year, where TVs accounted for the largest segment in the equipment market at 45 percent.

The first version of the IFA took place in Berlin in December 1924 with 242 exhibitors presenting their newest radio engineering developments.

Since then, the IFA fair has come a long way. It attracted over 244,000 visitors and 1,814 exhibitors last year.

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