By James Wells in Berlin

BERLIN: Over 1,049 exhibitors from 32 countries have filled the massive 160,000 square meter grounds of this year’s Internationale Funkaustellung (IFA), the world’s largest consumer electronics show held annually in Berlin.

Previously a bi-annual event, this year is the first time since IFA has been made an annual affair and has once again been supported by the major consumer electronics brands in Europe including Philips, Panasonic, Samsung, LG, Grundig, Loewe, Daewoo, Sharp, Toshiba and JVC.

“The annual concept has now been implemented and is supported by domestic and international exhibitors. By participating in such numbers they have revitalized it. The number of exhibitors taking part far exceeds our expectations,” said IFA organisation board chairman, Dr Rainer Hecker.

IFA operates differently to the CES event which is held annually in Las Vegas, IFA is a consumer event attracting families and technology enthusiasts. IFA also operates as a pre-Christmas ordering event for the major retailers who are hosted within designated areas of the major exhibitions. The CES event is focused mainly on new technology and is a trade-only event.

“Over the years the [retail] orders have tended to fluctuate,” said Messe Berlin chief operating officer, Dr Christian Göke.

“We can expect a more effective concentration of business here. An annual IFA will ensure a different degree of stability for the major companies and their sales processes.”

Over €2.5 billion of Christmas orders are expected to be made by European and US retailers visiting the 2006 IFA show in Berlin this week.