The 45th International Consumer Electronics Fair (IFA) in Berlin has drawn to a close with experts predicting that the well-attended event would provide a much-needed boost to Germany's struggling electronics industry.
Flat-screens were all the rage at the IFA
Even before the curtain fell on the six-day IFA spread out over the massive exhibition hall in western Berlin on Wednesday, organizers and industry representatives were in little doubt that in terms of figures and sales, the show had been a success.
"We even partly exceeded the high expectations preceding the fair. We are very satisfied," said Roland Stehle of the Society for Entertainment and Communications Electronics (gfu).
Germany's electronics industry, which has been plagued by profit concerns and price falls in recent years, had pinned high hopes on the IFA which has improved continually every year in terms of attracting heavyweight exhibitors. This year over 1,200 of them from 40 countries were vying for attention with their latest products.
More professionals, more orders
According to Stehle, even the specialized trade center at the fair was teeming with visitors this year, demand was high and buyers placed record number of orders.
"There were more industry professionals this year at the IFA than say two years ago," said Stehle who added that even the levels of know-how and expertise among them were significantly higher. "The volume of orders was correspondingly higher -- estimated at more than 2.5 billion euros ($3.1 billion) as compared to about 2.4 billion euros in 2003," said Stehle.
Though the estimates have not yet been officially confirmed and put down on paper, Stehle said the industry was confident that the final figures on orders and visitors would make this year's IFA stand out in the fair's 81-year history.
Innovation the key word
One of the obvious trends at this year's IFA was the presence of overwhelming plasma and LCD flat screens with the logo "HD-Ready" in a reference to high-definition televisions (HDTV), which are all the rage in the industry.
Several German television stations announced at the IFA that they would broadcast their programs in the new standard starting this autumn. The electronics industry is hoping that the new trend will provide a much-needed boost to the upcoming Christmas retail sales and help sluggish consumer spending in the country.
"Twenty-one percent of all households in Germany want to buy a flat-screen television in the next 24 months," said Hans-Joachim Kamp, chairman of the Consumer Electronics Trade Association. "I think this underpins the positive trend and the positive mood in the consumer electronics area."
Stehle confirmed that the continued digitalization of electronic gadgets right from radios to mobile phones and home entertainment was a promising development and that it would also raise demand for other digital products such as DVDs and video players, cameras and MP3 players.
"The consumer electronics segment is overwhelmingly innovative. We have around 10,000 new products each year and right now we seem to have the finger on the pulse of the consumers," said Stehle.
"Our products are fun, they look good, they offer value and finally, that's what's honored by customers."