Berlin (dpa) - The IFA wants to prove once more as an international stage for innovation.
This year, Artificial Intelligence, 5G as well as the voice control of consumer electronics are clearly in the focus of the top topics, said IFA Director Jens Heithecker to the official opening in Berlin.
Artificial intelligence is finding its way into more and more entertainment devices. Speech recognition makes the operation comfortable. And the 5G mobile communications standard is expected to give new impetus to smartphone manufacturers in the face of a stagnating market.
The industry is currently making good use of powerful innovations: The current phase of growth will come to an end in 2019, said Hans-Joachim Kamp, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of gfu, the industry association.
In the first half of the year, the market for technical consumer goods recorded a drop of two percent, said Kamp. Overall, however, the market is in a stable situation, despite critical factors such as trade wars, the impending Brexit and the economic weakness in many countries. The IFA is taking place again at the right time, Kamp said. Traditionally, the industry made the biggest sales in the last quarter of the year.
The industry is also under pressure due to the current trade dispute between the USA and China. The Trump government imposed about the electronics giant Huawei significant restrictions. However, every trade war not only affects one country, but an entire industry and thus also the consumers, said Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin. "Innovations are becoming less innovative, and that's what affects us all." IFA brings the US and China together for its opening speeches. Alongside the president of American chipmaker Qualcomm, Cristian Amon, Huawei's consumer business executive Richard Yu will give a speech hold.
After the tough frequency auction for the new mobile standard, 5G was initially intended for use in autonomous driving or for industrial companies. Private users could benefit more often from an expansion of LTE standards, it said. But the telecom companies and smartphone manufacturers increasingly address the private user. Vodafone counted after the introduction of a 5G tariff option in a very short time 5000 customers.
Now, the company is additionally fueling the interest with a 5G option at no extra cost. So far, however, there are only two smartphones - Samsung and Huawei - in the market. However, these should also put companies at the center of attention at IFA. 5G is one of Samsung's core themes for smartphones, said Germany boss Mario Winter. There are still few devices left, but 2020 may be the first year in which 5G opens up a large market, Göke said.
While sales of traditional consumer electronic devices, the new TV sets, continue to decline, sales of smartphones are still at a high level, said Sebastian Klöß from digital association Bitkom. In the coming years, a lot will be done in this area. The next generation, foldable smartphones, are already in the starting blocks.
Recently, Samsung and Huawei had a race for the first device of its kind in the market delivered, but both rowed back shortly before the planned start. In the production of, inter alia, the display, there were persistent problems. Now Samsung launches a new start. At the IFA in Berlin, the South Korean company will have its "Galaxy Fold" in the luggage, which will come on the market later this month. Huawei could also have his "Mate X" with him.
A trend study by Bitkom and the consulting firm Deloitte found that more than half of the respondents (58 percent) see a big advantage of folding smartphones in that they fold up and therefore require less space. The larger screen is thought to be particularly interesting by 50 percent. And 18 percent expect more power than conventional smartphones. So far, the new device generation is still very expensive. With prices up to 2300 euros for the "Mate X", the device category is likely to be the only time in a niche market.
For two days, the trade fair will be reserved for trade visitors and the press. The private audience will be invited from Friday. This year, the number of exhibitors has again increased slightly in 1939 compared to the previous year, as the organizers announced. Last year, IFA counted around 244,000 visitors.