Last weekend, I attended IFA’s Global Press Conference event, set against the lavish backdrop of the Spanish coast near Portugal, in Andalusia, Spain. Taking place over the span of 4 days, the event was attended by more than 300 journalists and analysts from 55 countries, with over 500 minutes of industry presentations. IFA-produced events are terrific opportunities to get apprised of new products and technology trends and meet one-on-one with many of the tech industry’s executive leaders. My IFA GPC recap podcast with noted technology journalists Rob Pegoraro and John Quain can be found here.
Key takeaways from this year’s Global Press Conference
This year’s GPC was more than just the customary wining and dining—some interesting news came out of the event that set the stage for what I expect will be an especially newsworthy IFA trade show (which will be held, as usual, in Berlin, Germany in September). Here’s a quick highlights recap of the GPC event:
- First, the GPC event confirmed that Christiano Amon, Qualcomm’s President, and Richard Yu, Huawei ’s CEO will give the keynote speeches at the September event. You probably couldn’t ask for a stranger lineup for a high-profile event like IFA Berlin. For Qualcomm, it will be interesting to hear Amon’s perspective on the company’s recent settlement with Apple . As for the magnetic Yu, it will be intriguing to hear what Huawei is doing to dispel the company’s “bad guy” reputation (deserved or not deserved). Certainly, both will address how each of their companies will push the adoption of 5G. Get out the popcorn.
- Secondly, the GPC made news with the announcement that Sennheiser, the legendary professional audio company, announced that it was selected as the first-ever IFA Global Audio Partner. This is not a trivial recognition for Sennheiser given the huge public and industry reputation that IFA enjoys. With this partnership, Sennheiser will be the official audio solutions and technical support provider for the Berlin event in September, as well as other IFA global events including CE China. In related news, IFA announced that Japan was tapped to become the association’s first country partner—an endorsement of the country’s technological achievements, and a signal of IFA’s desire to promote startups and research centers in Japan. The timing of the announcement couldn’t be more auspicious since Japan is hosting the G20 summit in June.
- Finally, Margot Edelman, Vice President at Edelman (one of the premier public relations and communications firms in the world), gave what was perhaps the best public presentation at IFA GPC—an intriguing discussion about consumer’s trust of technology. It was especially interesting to learn that trust in health technology, AI technologies, and IoT is particularly high in comparison to areas like autonomous vehicles and blockchain technology (though the results vary from a country to country basis). While mainstream consumers seem to have a lot of trust in technology at a macro level—presumably reflecting the optimism and potential of devices like smartphones and streaming entertainment services—it was not surprising to see Edelman’s presentation indicate that specific social media companies, such as Facebook , are some of the least trusted forms of technology.
IFA Berlin shapes up to be a “must attend” event
Consumer skepticism towards social media aside, the overall IFA GPC event was imbued with seemingly boundless optimism. Noted research firm GfK presented multiple data points that show that smart home solutions and products continue to grow at a rapid double-digit pace in most global markets. 4K TVs, for example, are expected to be in nearly 60% of North American homes by 2022. Not surprisingly, GPC’s evening events, particularly the terrific Friday night reception at the historic Franciscan monastery where Christopher Columbus organized his voyage to the West, were framed to underscore the innovation, invention, and determination that characterize IFA events. If this is a sign of things to come, the upcoming IFA Berlin event will be a technology showcase not to be missed.