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Asian telecom carriers expand presence at IFA trade show

SKT, ZTE to join Europe’s largest home appliance exhibition for first time

VALETTA, Malta ― Telecom carriers are expanding their presence at IFA, Europe’s largest trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances, with Korea’s SK Telecom and China’s ZTE joining the event for the first time this year.

“We see a stronger area for telecommunications. It’s the key technology for a connected home and we see it’s rising up as a topic,” IFA executive director Jens Heithecker told Korean reporters at the IFA Global Press Conference on Saturday on the resort island of Malta.

He predicted that connected living, based on the Internet of Things technology, would lead key innovations in the home appliance industry in the coming years.

At this year’s IFA in Berlin on Sept. 4-9, key exhibitors are expected to show off their latest IoT technology and products, he added. 

IFA executive director Jens Heithecker speaks at the IFA Global Conference in Valetta, Malta, Saturday. (Lee Ji-yoon/The Korea Herald)
IFA executive director Jens Heithecker speaks at the IFA Global Conference in Valetta, Malta, Saturday. (Lee Ji-yoon/The Korea Herald)

“In the past, we talked about technology. Now we talk about products and solutions that consumers can buy and retailers can sell,” the IFA head said.

“Korean companies are the main participators in our show and are very proud of this collaboration. We are especially glad to see SK Telecom this year.”

Together with Korean big names such as Samsung and LG, he said smaller but innovative Korean firms will participate in the upcoming event. He also hinted that Samsung Electronics’ new Galaxy Note 5 phablet may be unveiled at the annual fair as the Korean tech giant, one of the biggest exhibitors, has made it a tradition in recent years. However, he declined to elaborate further.

He said the presence of Chinese companies will be more apparent at IFA where they have kept a low profile, compared to their growing influence at other global exhibitions such as the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

In reflection of the renewed commitment, China’s Haier and ZTE promoted their new products on the sidelines of the IFA preview event.

“The Chinese players are relevant and they will set a new a sign for the market,” the IFA chief said.

In the meantime, GFK, a global research firm, predicted a 1.5 percent growth in the consumer electronics sector this year, while the market for electrical appliances is set to grow by 3 to 4 percent.

“This trend will continue in 2016. Innovation is driving the markets. That means good prospects for IFA 2015 because IFA stands for innovation,” said Jurgen Boyny, global director of consumer electronics at GFK Retail and Technology.

By Lee Ji-yoon (