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IFA Berlin 2014: Nobody cares for small companies, all eyes on China

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Megan Kelly |
IFA Berlin
Executive briefing   One of the most important trade shows shapes the industries

Since 1924 IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) Berlin, International radio exhibition Berlin, is one of the most important industrial exhibitions in the world. It shapes the industries around the globe, sets new standards and makes billions flow.

This year's IFA is not over yet but we can already see some trends that will be prevalent in consumer electronics and gadgets of all kinds.

All eyes are on the biggest names in the industry and we think this is not right from several reasons. First, smaller players are growing fast, so fast that they are already No1 in some very big markets. That is particularly true on the field of smartphones where few big names are in all headlines, no matter do they deserve that. It seems that every media has a favorite with a "spectacular new device," neglecting other companies big time.

Then, you never know from where a new idea will emerge and create new paradigm that will shake several industries set new standards, be it a new technology, a ways new technologies impact work and play, or just a product that will earn billions.

We can split this year's IFA in two: the first one under the spotlights with improved devices and the other behind the curtains where real business strategies for the next period have been creating. Let's take a look at both.

The first trend is wearable devices, a field where a real breakthrough is still to be found and that reminds us of the early days of personal computers. Everybody and his brother are trying to get on board with a new smartwatch or another device connected to phone or the internet one way or another. It is obvious that companies are still experimenting with different concepts because there is no clear vision how to incorporate wearable devices in our lives. So, at least for now, every new feature, no matter how small it is, is called "game changer" and "exciting new feature."

The next trend, and a very promising one, is connectivity of household appliances. We don't know how firm is the statement that "consumers want to control all appliances with one device," but this really is a promising field that connects consumer electronics, communications industry, and hardware manufacturers. From TVs to refrigerators, you will ever growing list of devices of all kind that can communicate and save us a lot of time and make our lives easier. And that's the most important.

Thinner and smaller devices are another star of this IFA. While it is true that there's no fun in carrying around a heavy notebook, it is also no fun to have one as thin as a piece of paper. If you ever tried to use a device with keyboard with keys that don't move, you know how painful it is. So, there are limits that should not be crossed just to show what is technologically possible, because some things are absolutely unusable for humans.

On the field of tablets and laptops a very interesting development is going on, a melting of tablets and laptops. Tablets are very powerful devices today but they are limited for some serious work. One of the main problems: the screen is covered with the keyboard. Another: keyboard with no moving keys is very stressful for your fingers. Add to that no mouse or trackpad and you have serious limitations if you want to do a serious work. That's why combinations of notebook and tablets have a potential to be accepted in a business world.

From the business point of view, IFA can be described with three words: innovation, holiday season, and China.

IFA was and is still is a place that revolves around technical innovations of all kinds and that's its best part. Thousands of smaller and bigger new features can be seen, ideas can be exchanged, and new trends can be spotted.

Holiday season, especially in the United Stated, is the reason everybody wants to come to IFA. This is the place to show the newest devices, make deals with buyers and dealers, and make plans how to use the holiday season to the max.

And then there is China. While the whole world is in Germany, all eyes are on China. Developed markets are saturated and, what's even more important, they have far smaller number of potential buyers than China (and its neighbor, India). If China embraces a new product, you can be sure that your company will be posting very good, if not excellent, results every quarter. China is also the home of new and innovative companies that grow fast and it would be clever to watch them and learn from their strategies.

IFA is a very interesting happening, much more interesting then the number of pixels on new phones and displays a fraction of an inch bigger. So, don't pay attention to endless technical details and characteristics of new smarthphones and dig deeper, you will see an exciting future ahead of us.

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