What we Learned (or Didn’t Learn) from IFA Press Days

The press day at CES is 1 day long – at IFA it’s two days. Bob Raikes and I attended this year and frankly, it is too much and the value is marginal. And even if something useful is revealed, it is high level or a summary of what is being shown in the booth. That may be fine for the mainstream consumer press, but our readers want more. That invariably means a visit to the booth/stand and a nice chat with the technical folks.

These press conferences are more like brand theater. They all seem to follow the same formula and hit the same check boxes: we listen to our customers; we engaged with design experts; our products are simple and easy to use; we are an innovative company and leaders in our segment; these are the best products we have ever made.


Here are some of the interesting things we learned or themes we observed:

  • So you thought we would die – Companies that are coming back from the brink. Sony became profitable again; Sharp is reinvigorated following the Foxconn purchase; Toshiba sold their brand name and TV manufacturing in Europe to Vestel; Metz is back following the Skyworth bailout; Loewe is back with support from Hisense
  • Take that OLED – Samsung offers a 10 year no burn-in warranty on their quantum dot LCD TVs
  • First OLED UHD TVs in the line – Loewe with Dolby Vision, Philips, Grundig and Metz with HDR10
  • First laptop with a curved display – Acer
  • First curved quantum dot gaming monitor – Samsung with fast 1 ms response using a VA panel!

Here are some things we didn’t hear about and expected to:

  • New LCD TVs – with the exception of Philips and smaller specialized brands like Loewe, Bang and Olufsen, Metz and Grundig (and Sony didn’t mention TV at all in the press event)
  • Virtual reality – with exception of Sony noting that PlayStation VR goes on sale next month
  • Mobile phones – with the exception of Sony’s Xperia
  • Projection – with the exception of Sony pico product
  • Health – with the exception of some products from Philips
  • Wearables – nothing except Samsung’s Gear 3 event that was off-site

LG did not have a press event and I missed the Panasonic event, but they aren’t doing much in consumer TVs anymore*. We heard a lot about white goods or what I like to call the holy trinity: cooling, cleaning and cooking. None of these products have very exciting displays with the exception of a new cooling product, i.e. refrigerator, from Samsung. It has a 21.5” portrait display that they want to make the hub of the family lifestyle. One side benefit of the cooking products – there were lots of demos on the show floor with all kinds of tasty treats. Why can’t CES be like that?

IFA is huge, but it is full up so there is no room for any automakers to appear, like at CES. That’s why Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche gave a keynote address. Which reminds me – most keynotes are just branding opportunities too. Such is the life of the trade show warrior. CC

* Panasonic is still active in Europe in TV, although it is out of the market now in the US.  However, it was almost the end of the press conference before TV got a mention, and that was just about an ‘about to arrive’ technology improvement to the performance of “near black” grey scaling on a new OLED TV. (BR)

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