Is IFA a Little Quieter? What’s Next?

We managed to get this week’s issues done, despite the distraction of IFA, where press events started on Wednesday – thanks to the team for their help with this. So far, there is not a great deal of big news – TV makers are promoting OLEDs, except for Sharp and Samsung which are pushing 8K (others are also joining in). There is plenty of time, still, to find some interesting topics, but it looks as though any interest will be at the detail level.

I have talked to several PC makers already and I have been very surprised that not only is nobody showing the new Nvidia RTX ray-tracing technology, but also that most of the people that I have spoken to have not even been aware of the technology. That’s slightly surprising as IFA is a consumer show and the gaming market is a consumer market. I suspect that a factor is that the consumer versions of the new Nvidia GPUs were announced at the Gamescon show in Germany which took place recently, so it may be that Nvidia did not have enough units, yet, to supply demos at that event and also at IFA. Still, it was a surprise.

In particular, in its press conference, Acer’s CEO, Jason Chen, mentioned Nvidia, but only in passing and with no products on show, despite Chen emphasising that Acer is doing well and wants to continue to flourish in the PC gaming market. My view remains that the Nvidia technology is a genuine game changer for graphics and PC gaming. The development will really make consoles look old-fashioned and under-powered and may impact both Microsoft and Sony (which highlighted that PlayStation is its most successful consumer electronics segment in its press conference).

So far, I have seen little of interest in smartphones or VR. There is lots of discussion of the ‘IoT’, but it’s still not completely clear where the real business in this market is.

On the first press day, and the first day of the show, the Friday, the numbers seemed down, with spaces available at some press events that were over-loaded in previous years. However, the Samsung press conference was full – as was the ‘overflow’ room, so perhaps the press just arrived a little later than usual. Still, it will be interesting to see if the numbers from the organisers show visitor growth. At the opening press conference, the organisers said that the show had more exhibitors and with more space than ever.

IFA added household appliances ten years ago, while CES boosted its coverage of automotive topics. Germany has the Frankfurt motor show every two years (the last one was in September 2017) and trying to cover automotive would clash badly with that event if IFA really went for it. However, IFA this year has a conference session on automotive topics, organised not with the organisers of the Frankfurt event, but with the Geneva Motor Show, which is next due in March 2019. A gap of six months is probably a good enough gap to allow co-existence. Given the extent to which automotive electronics is growing in importance for suppliers as well as brands, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see IFA heading in this direction in order to try to keep driving growth.