Corona pandemic forces the IFA trade fair into a big experiment

Stand: 02.09.2020 | Reading time: 4 minutes

Technology fair IFA 2020

Due to the corona pandemic, IFA is not taking place as a mass event, but is only open to a few hundred trade visitors and accredited journalists. Photo: Christoph Dernboh / dpa

Source: dpa-infocom GmbH

In 2019, the IFA technology fair attracted just under 250,000 visitors. This year the corona pandemic does not allow a mass event of this dimension. But in contrast to other tech shows, the IFA does not completely withdraw to the Internet.

Berlin (dpa) – The home electronics industry can actually be quite satisfied this year. Although classic consumer electronics products such as televisions do not sell particularly well, the industry as a whole was able to halt the decline in sales of previous years.

With an increase in sales of more than five percent in the first half of the year compared to the previous year, the trend was even reversed, also because laptops, monitors and other devices for the home office found huge sales. Every other year manufacturers, dealers and technology-loving consumers have the innovations of the industry at the technology fair IFA celebrated.

But 2020 is not like any other year. Because of the corona pandemic, technology trade fairs such as the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona or Ceatec, the most important electronics fair in Japan, canceled or completely relocated to the Internet. In Berlin However, the trade fair organizers want to prove the IFA not only on the internet as a growth and innovation engine in the industry, but also in a completely analogous way on the site under the radio tower.

However, only accredited media representatives, dealers and manufacturers can take part in the technology show from Thursday, which has been shortened to three days. And instead of the entire exhibition grounds, only four halls in the south area and the Citycube are available. Most of the other halls are closed. However, the special hospital with around 500 beds is still available in Hall 26 to accommodate possible corona patients with a second wave of infections.

The precautionary measures against the spread of the coronavirus now also determine the part that is opened for IFA activities. According to the sophisticated hygiene concept, a maximum of 750 people are allowed to come to each of the three event areas at the same time on the three days of the fair from Thursday. Large traffic lights signal to visitors whether they are allowed to enter a hall or the Citycube or whether they have to wait.

Against this background, expectations of the IFA are not particularly high. So had Samsung, otherwise a loyal IFA exhibitor, canceled its participation and announced innovations such as the new edition of the Galaxy Z Fold 5G folding smartphone in advance. The Deutsche Telekom announced their start of the 5G expansion last year at a huge booth in Hall 21a. This year the color magenta will not be seen in the IFA halls. Also other IFA permanent exhibitors like Amazon, Lenovo, Philips, Sennheiser and Sony absence.

On board, on the other hand, are industry giants such as the chip giant Qualcomm, whose microprocessors drive the majority of Android smartphones, the South Korean Samsung competitor LG, the German household appliance manufacturers BSH and Miele and the Chinese smartphone giant Huawei. Almost 100 exhibitors are represented on site. Last year almost 2000 exhibitors crowded the IFA exhibition grounds.

This year, several hundred exhibitors will also be present exclusively online: With a digital platform, the “IFA 2020 Special Edition” also offers access to the event in Berlin for those interested who cannot be there.

For the IFA organizers, given the difficult framework conditions, the main thing is to show the flag and hope for an improvement in the coming year. While the organizers of the major electronics fair CES in Las Vegas have already buried their plans to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors to Las Vegas in January 2021, Berliners will have more time next year. An effective vaccine against the Covid-19 pathogen could actually be available by September 2021.

But even if the global health conditions have normalized again by then and the corona pandemic has been effectively limited, the trade fair organizers are still concerned about questions: Do manufacturers, retailers and buyers of consumer electronics really want to face each other at a huge trade fair venue like IFA Meet face? Or is a digital stage enough to announce innovations in the industry and to initiate business? Or will the IFA overtake the fate of CeBIT, which last lured computer nerds and business people to Hanover in 2018 and was then discontinued.

At least the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller (SPD), is confident that the IFA will not overtake the fate of CeBIT: “IFA 2020 will be an important milestone to bring Berlin back to normality and economic growth from this pandemic bring. “

How the changed IFA will be reflected in the balance sheet of Berlin Messe is currently not foreseeable. In the current format, it is not a total failure like many other trade fairs in Germany. According to its own estimates, the compulsory Corona break is likely to cost the German trade fair industry at least a quarter of its annual turnover. More than one billion euros of sales, which would otherwise be four billion euros including international business, will be missing in 2020, said Harald Kötter, spokesman for the Association of the German Exhibition Industry (AUMA).

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200902-99-404365 / 3

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