The Smart Home, global appliance manufacturing, microchip architecture, the Internet of Things and the regeneration of family businesses will be on the agenda when the industry converges on Berlin in September for the 54th Internationale Funkausstellung, better known as IFA.
Messe Berlin, organisers of IFA, confirmed overnight that Samsung, Arçelik, Intel, Nest and Sennheiser have been booked to deliver keynote addresses during the conference.
“IFA is proud to present an outstanding International Keynote program with leading international executives who will share their success stories and strategies for the future,” said IFA director Jens Heithecker. “This year, IFA received a record number of highly qualified applications for our International Keynote Program.”
As previously reported on Appliance Retailer, this year’s IFA will include a presence from every major appliance and technology brand in the world, except Apple. This will be the first IFA including a stand from Whirlpool, which last week acquired a controlling share in Italian manufacturer Indesit, confirming its place as a truly global manufacturer. A sprawling maze of halls, exhibits, booths and products, IFA is a trade show in the literal sense: deals are done in the back of stands and dealers that place orders at the show are traditionally guaranteed to have stock on shelves for the Christmas rush.
With mercantile competitiveness emboldening suppliers, it is no surprise that IFA has again booked a stellar line-up of keynote speakers, none more impressive than the president and CEO of Samsung, Boo-Keun Yoon. Samsung has emerged as a global powerhouse in smartphones and phablets and the only true competitor to Apple in tablets. Its LED LCD and Curved Ultra HD panels are turning heads and with a comprehensive new audio product offering, there is now no consumer technology category that Samsung does not play in. Home appliances, however, have been a challenge for the brand.
While it holds a strong position in refrigeration and laundry, Samsung has thus far failed to unlock its considerable potential in cooking appliances. For that reason, it is intriguing that Boo-Keun Yoon topic for his keynote is described as “Samsung’s ‘vision for the Home of the Future”. Whereas technology products like smartphones and TVs are often selected based on an empirical analysis of features and specifications, in relation to a consumer’s needs and price sensitivity, cooking appliances are a much more emotional purchase, with consumers looking for style cues, a seamless design, European heritage, demonstrable cooking credentials and the ‘show-off’ factor.
At the 2013 IFA conference, Samsung debuted its Chef’s Collection of cooking appliances, which were designed in collaboration with some of the world’s most renowned restaurateurs. It will be fascinating to see how Samsung reinforces this inchoate strategy and then builds on it, presumably in collaboration with and connected to other appliances and gadgets in its range.
Following Samsung’s keynote will be Levent Çakiroglu, president of Koç Holding Durable Goods and CEO of the Arçelik Group, marketers of the Beko and Grundig brands in Australia. Çakiroglu will use his presentation to discuss how this global appliance powerhouse, with 14 factories across Turkey, Russia, Romania, China and South Africa, is rapidly expanding and developing its consumer base around the world.
When Appliance Retailer covered the official launch of IFA’s 2014 conference in April, we noted that the Internet of Things was destined to be the buzz topic at the expo and the keynote speeches by Intel and Nest appear to cement this view. Intel senior vice president for personal computing Kirk Skaugen is expected to reveal new products that will “usher in a new era of computing devices” while Nest CEO Tony Fadell, a one-time Apple designer who worked on the iPod and iPhone, is expected to discuss how his company, purchased by Google for more than US $3 billion earlier this year, is changing the way we interact with technology in the home.
Finally, and perhaps most interesting of all, Daniel and Andreas Sennheiser, the co-CEOs of their eponymous audio company, will take the stage to offer an insight into how family companies manage generation change and maintain innovation. Sennheiser is well-regarded as a leading brand in terms of audio quality, both for professionals and consumers, but its traditional market dominance has been severely disrupted by the emergence of Beats, which focuses more on marketing and brand endorsements.
IFA 2014 Keynote Schedule
Friday 5 September 2014
10:30am: Boo-Keun Yoon, president & CEO, Samsung Electronics
2:00pm: Levent Çakiroglu, president, Koç Holding Durable Goods & CEO, Arçelik Group (Beko & Grundig)
5:00pm: Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president & general manager of the Personal Computing Group, Intel Corporation
Saturday 6 September 2014
10:30am: Tony Fadell, CEO, Nest Labs
2:00pm: Daniel & Andreas Sennheiser, CEOs, Sennheiser Electronic
The 2014 IFA Consumer Electronics Show takes place in Berlin, Germany; 5-10 September 2014.
This author is on Twitter: @Patrickavenell