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[Pre-IFA] Korean tech firms to drive innovation at IFA 2017

‘IFA, favorable spot for Samsung to unpack Galaxy Note 8’

LISBON, Portugal -- The upcoming IFA, the largest consumer electronics show in Berlin, will continue to serve as a gateway for leading Korean tech giants aiming to make inroads into the European market, with the show preparing more space for their presentations of high-quality innovation to the world.

“Samsung will have the biggest presentation as well this year, as far as we know, and we are very happy to have Korean industries like Samsung, LG and other companies in our show,” said Jens Heithecker, executive director of the IFA at a press event in the capital of Portugal on Saturday.
Jens Heithecker, executive director of the IFA (IFA)
Jens Heithecker, executive director of the IFA (IFA)

The event known as Pre-IFA, was held to offer the latest trends on the consumer electronics market and a preview on the IFA, scheduled for Sept. 1-6

IFA, an abbreviation of Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin, is one of the oldest industrial exhibitions in the world. It is held annually in the German capital. More than 1,800 exhibitors, including 96 Korean companies, joined the event last year.

“How many and what kinds, what quality of innovations are brought in and presented to the global stage are important, and for this, Samsung and other Korean companies are in the first,” said Heithecker.

The IFA could be a favorable stage for Samsung to unveil the Galaxy Note 8 smartphone as its American rival Apple is expected to launch the new iPhone series at a similar time.

“The big advantage is that we have a lot of media and journalists from all around the world in Berlin. It is not possible to bring them all in other cities wherever it is in August. That’s our offer,” he said.

For Korean providers of premium home appliances such as Samsung and LG, the IFA chief stressed Europe is a tough market, citing the strong presence of local companies that have loyal customers.

“We see rising market shares by Asian companies, but they need two strategies. One is that, for Korean companies, they need niches of high-value home appliances and devices with all technology knowledge they have.”

Korean firms should also be able to compete with Chinese and Eastern European players with product prices, he added.

Not only for finished products, the show will also hold “IFA NEXT” for startups, research labs and small and large companies that are at the edge of innovation.

“What we did this year is that we have enlarged our capacity to take OEM (original equipment manufacturer), ODM (original design manufacturer) and component manufacturers,” said Heithecker. “We will have about 170,000 square meters of exhibition space this year, plus the additional space for the new station, totaling 190,000 square meters of areas being ready to present for the presentations of our exhibitors.”

For the next two years, the consumer electronics market will see continuous growth of the digital market with high connectivity, said Jurgen Boyny, global director of consumer electronics at market researcher GfK Retail and Technology.
Jurgen Boyny, global director of consumer electronics at GfK Retail and Technology (IFA)
Jurgen Boyny, global director of consumer electronics at GfK Retail and Technology (IFA)

“Turnover in the digital market remains high. Nearly $950 billion in total annual sales are expected in both 2017 and 2018,” Boyny said. “The smartphone is connecting all areas of daily life, from the TV in the living room to the washing machine, coffee machine, or bathroom scales. The Internet of Things has already reached the consumer.”

The five major topics of the digital world this year will be mobile payment, virtual reality and augmented reality, smart home, autonomous cars and wearables, he added.

The boundaries between consumer electronics and home appliances, and also the digital and the physical worlds, are blurring, said Christian Goeke, CEO of Messe Berlin. 

Christian Goeke, CEO of Messe Berlin (IFA)
Christian Goeke, CEO of Messe Berlin (IFA)
“Whether it is in the kitchen, the living room or the office, the consumerization of devices is exponential -- from entertainment in the living room to health care and wellness, automotive, mobile devices, gaming, computing, services like the Internet of Things and the smart home, to new fields like drones, virtual, augmented and mixed reality,” he said. “Today, consumer electronics connects and shapes everything.”

By Song Su-hyun (song@heralcorp.com)
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