The IFA fair in Berlin, the largest European technology fair, will not be held in 2020, at least in its traditional format. The decision of the local government of Berlin to ban any event of more than 5,000 people before the end of October, with the intention of slowing the advance of the pandemic, has been the final blow to an event that had already been in doubt for weeks.
The IFA is traditionally held during the first week of September and attracts more than 250,000 visitors and 1,800 exhibiting companies, roughly double that of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It is especially relevant because it is celebrated very close to the Christmas shopping season and therefore it is key in the consumer electronics sector.
Berlin’s decision to ban large gatherings and festivals until October 27 makes the celebration impossible
But this year, the threat of the coronavirus has completely altered the calendar of the big tech events. Since the month of February, in which the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress was announced, several international events have had to be postponed, canceled or changed their format to adapt to the reality of the pandemic. Consequently, Google and Facebook will not hold their traditional developer conferences. Apple will make its own an event transmitted through the network and large conventions such as the E3 video game fair in Los Angeles, will not open their doors this year either.
The hope of many exhibitors was that the late IFA date would work in their favor. Some countries have begun to reduce confinement measures in recent days, due to the lower number of infections. By September, if there is no second wave of the virus, it is possible that in many cities some normality has returned.
The Berlin government’s decision to ban large rallies and festivals until October 27, however, makes the celebration impossible. The organizers of the IFA, the Society for the Promotion of Consumer Electronics in Germany (GFU) and the Berlin Fairgrounds (Messe Berlin) will maintain the fair, but with a very different format. Instead of one big event, the 2020 IFA may turn into several conferences aimed at a smaller audience – press and analysts – and focused on technology launches ahead of Christmas.
“We expected this situation given the ever-evolving pandemic and appreciate that we now have a clear regulatory framework that allows us, our partner Messe Berlin, and our exhibitors to make detailed plans for IFA 2020,” explained Hans-Joachim Kamp, President of the GFU. The GFU will give details of the new IFA format in the coming weeks.