Published on April 26th, 2015 | by Bhavishya Kanjhan0
IFA Global Press Conference sets the stage for IFA 2015 in Berlin
The global consumer technology conference IFA happens in September every year in Berlin. However, IFA hosts its Global Press Conference a few months prior to that allowing a select few companies to reach out to technology journalists and analysts.
While the major announcements are still reserved for the main show in September, the Global Press Conference gives us a few glimpses of what to expect.
This year the conference was held in Malta and featured sessions from leading consumer technology companies including Philips, Haier, Grundig, ZTE, TPVision, Gibson, as well as from market research companies such as IHS and GFK. The event also featured a special power session by Microsoft.
Here’s a few highlights from the power sessions at the IFA Global Press Conference
Bernd Laudahn, the MD of Philips kickstarted the power sessions with a talk on ‘Building the Future in Health Tech’. He talked about the growing importance of technology in the Health and Medical sectors. While traditionally, Philips has been a lighting company, it has made significant investments in the Health sector. This is why Philips is splitting into two companies – Philips Lighting and Royal Philips. The latter will cater to the EUR 100 billion market for Health technology in the world.
Laudahn identified four areas in the HealthTech space which Philips was going to focus on; these are the use of big data, collaboration with Healthcare professionals, merging the expertise of medical and consumer sector, and delivering solutions that centre around system health approach. In addition, Philips also announce a partnership with Allianz which already has a pilot project underway that combines both software and hardware to improve the lives of users. This will be rolled out to a wider user base after trials by employees of both companies.
Haier is a consumer appliances brand that has a very strong footprint in Europe. In fact, it focuses primarily on the GAS (German, Austria, and Switzerland) region and it is looking to widen its focus in the coming years.
Haier announced a new ‘T Door’ Refrigerator which has one compartment with variable temperature between -5 and 20 degree celsius – effectively allowing you to use it as either a freezer, or a fridge, depending on your needs. Its new line up of washing machines includes a double drum unit which allows you to do two loads at a time. Hair took another step in making your home smarter by announcing washing machines that can be monitored and controlled from your smartphone or tablets.
Lastly, Haier briefly showcased its smart watches that are targeted towards the elderly and children. The watch allows parents to track their kids wearing the watch at all times via GPS. There’s even an SOS button that lets the wearer get in touch with their parents quickly. The watches have a battery life of up to 2 days and come with bundled Android and iOS apps.
ZTE, which started off as a Chinese ODM company, has made significant moves into the European and American consumer space, as well as become focused towards becoming an OEM. It shipped 10 million smartphones last year – this includes devices both as an OEM, as well as an ODM to leading carriers. ZTE showed off its flagship smartphone which is the ZTE Star 2 that has a strong focus on voice control. ZTE says it’s better than Siri and Google Now because it doesn’t need an active internet connection to be able to do voice recognition. The phone has over a 1000 patents to its name, 150 of which are for voice control alone.
ZTE also showcase the SPro 2 which is an Android powered HD projector. The device features a built-in battery and WiFi/ Cellular connection which essentially makes it a full fledged entertainment machine that is also portable. You can take this device with you just about anywhere and have a big screen video experience.
You’ve heard of Philips, but their TVs are actually manufactured by TPVision. They’re the ones behind the AmbiLight TVs which have Ambient Light capabilities built into them. This setup delivers an LED powered ambient projection on the back of your TV wall that makes for a much more immersive experience.
TPVision announced that all (except one) of its TVs under the Philips TV brand will be powered by Android. These TVs will be announced at IFA later this year.
Apart from the brands mentioned above, Microsoft had a session at the show where they talked about change in their strategy. Windows 10 is a major launch for Microsoft this year and the company is obviously aiming to make a big impact with it. There’s also a big wave of change running across the company – right from delivering its products on competing platforms, to how apps are built for its own platform – and this means business models require a consequent shift too. Microsoft has moved primarily from a license based business for its software to about 8 different models. What this means for Microsoft and its bottom line is something we’ll have to see
The Microsoft representative said that it will be making major announcements at its Build Conference which happens later this month in San Francisco.
In addition to that, the Global Press Conference show also set the stage on the trends that we can expect in the consumer industry space. There’s wide spread optimism about 4K and UHD – whether it’s on the devices, especially TV sets, or on the content side of things. Smartphones are expected to have more pixels and 4K capturing capabilities, and the sales of 4K TVs are projected to be on the upward trend as well. This technology trend is expected to fare far better than 3D did.
IFA takes place in Berlin from 4 – 9th September 2015 and will is expected to feature a variety of announcements and releases in the Consumer Electronics space. The 54th edition held last year featured over 1,500 exhibitors and attracted a total of 240,000 visitors. The IFA committee is promising the show will be bigger and better this year.