IFA 2020 Special Edition: A Hybrid Experience Puts the Tech Industry Back on Track
[ lee joon suh 2020-09-07 ]  
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Underpinned by tight health and safety rules, IFA 2020 Special Edition connects brands with media, retailers and the public Huge interest by exhibitors in next year's IFA, with more than 60 per cent of exhibition space already booked for IFA 2021 IFA expands into photography in cooperation with Berlin Photo Week

IFA 2020 Special Edition has ended, sending the message that "tech is back" and that both the consumer electronics and home appliances industry and tech media have a hunger for real-life experiences. This year's IFA Berlin was a hybrid event: three days of keynotes, presentations and product launches took place in real life under tight health and safety rules, but were augmented by IFA's new virtual platform, IFA Xtended Space. IFA 2020 Special Edition also hosted SHIFT Mobility meets IFA NEXT, an innovation platform that brought together start-ups, innovators and many companies shaping the future of mobility and everyday life. In addition, the IFA Business, Retail & Meeting Lounges provided an opportunity for brands and retailers to meet and do business in a safe, but face-to-face environment. Global brands seized the opportunity of IFA 2020 Special Edition to create wow-effects – for example LG with its impressive hologram presentation, as well as global brands like BSH, Haier, Honor, Huawei, Miele, Neato, Qualcomm, TCL and many more.

IFA 2021: On track for a full-scale event
The IFA 2020 Special Edition also puts IFA on track to run the show as a full-scale event. Set to take place from 3 to 7 September 2021, IFA Berlin 2021 already has strong industry backing. So far, more than 60 per cent of the exhibition space has already been booked. "This is a new record. Never before have we had such strong interest so early, so far ahead of the start of IFA", said IFA Executive Director Jens Heithecker.

IFA 2020 Special Edition: A new type of hybrid event
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers of the IFA 2020 Special Edition had imposed tight limits on the number of attendees, well below those set by Germany's public health authorities. And yet, over its three days, the IFA 2020 Special Edition made it possible for 6,100 attendees to meet face to face, experience new devices and discuss the opportunities for the global technology industry.

On site, this year's IFA had 150 companies presenting their ideas, but they were joined by an additional 1,350 exhibitors from 30 countries at IFA Xtended Space and the IFA Virtual Market Place. Even though IFA Xtended Space opened its virtual doors just a couple of days before the IFA 2020 Special Edition got under way, more than 78,000 people followed the IFA 2020 Special Edition online, and generated 262,000 views – watching the keynote and press conferences, following panel discussions and exploring the virtual product demonstrations. This year's IFA Xtended Space will be fully accessible until just before IFA 2021.

"The IFA 2020 Special Edition showed us the impressive power of innovation. On a deeper level, it also showed us that the world needs these face-to-face meetings between industry, retail, consumers and media, and it is IFA that facilitated these crucial connections, despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic", said Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin.

Jens Heithecker, Executive Director of IFA Berlin, added: "The IFA 2020 Special Edition sent an important signal: 'tech is back,' and the recovery and rebuilding of the industry starts here and now. Of course, we had to keep the numbers at this year's IFA low, but it demonstrated the keen interest of everybody to meet in real life, and it sets us on the right track for a strong, full scale IFA 2021."

Kai Hillebrandt, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH: "First and foremost I would like to thank our partner Messe Berlin for putting together the concept of an IFA 2020 Special Edition, and then making it happen. This was a bold move, but it has been rewarded with the event's success. The IFA 2020 Special Edition was the first hybrid event in our industry and has set the standard. It brought people together, both in front of the screens and in person on the exhibition grounds in Berlin. IFA had a very special role to play this year and it fulfilled it perfectly. For the global markets, IFA provided important impulses at the right time in the run-up to the highest-turnover period as an innovation platform with numerous new product presentations. But as important as virtual components are in pandemic times, they never can replace human contact. Our goal for IFA 2021 will be to combine the traditional strengths of IFA - bringing together many innovations with even more people in one place - with the experiences of IFA 2020 Special Edition to create a robust future format."

New product category at IFA 2021 and cooperation with Berlin Photo Week
From next year IFA Berlin will have a new product category and add "imaging" to the show. "Imaging has become a major trend in our world that extends far beyond private life. It plays a central role in medical technology, autonomous driving, AI-technology and many other areas", said Heithecker.

Also, Messe Berlin is partnering with Berlin Photo Week, a unique and innovative event format for everyone who loves images. "Combining photo sessions, community experiences, artistic and cultural inspiration, the creation of irretrievable moments, partnerships that reach far beyond photography and media presence, the Berlin Photo Week is destined to become the novel imaging event format at the center of public attention", said Wolfgang Heinen from Berlin Photo Week.

The Berlin Photo Week successfully debuted in 2019 when it attracted more than 30.000 primarily young photo-enthusiasts, smartphone consumers, DSLR-users as well as professionals. Berlin Photo Week's objective is to create a unique way to inspire enthusiasm for making and enjoying photos and videos. It harnesses the diversity of Berlins landscape with the "Fun Place" as the event's focal point and numerous "Satellite"-locations dispersed around the city. It also connects with Berlin's globally renowned creative scene.

The dates of Berlin Photo Week 2021 will overlap with the IFA 2021, enabling participants to profit from visiting both events.

About IFA 2020 Special Edition
The IFA 2020 Special Edition - consisting of physical live events focusing on its B2B core functions of IFA - offers a meeting place for industry and trade in the IFA Business, Retail & Meeting Lounges and cross-industry innovations at SHIFT Mobility meets IFA NEXT. While these event elements are aimed at trade visitors, media representatives can exclusively experience the latest products and services, press briefings and the IFA keynote live at the IFA Global Press Conference.

Digital IFA Experience
With a virtual extension - the "IFA Xtended Space" - the physical event is complemented by live and on demand streaming of presentations, match-making tools and digital product demonstrations. The IFA Xtended Space thereby is accessible for both on-site guests and all other interested participants around the globe.

Global News Network 'AVING'
by lee joon suh (www.aving.net)

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