With IFA just around the corner, we spoke to IFA executive

director Jens Heithecker about what the future holds for

consumer electronics, beginning with how he sees the

market progressing at the moment.

We are expecting an extraordinary

year, with new products and

innovative ideas arriving on the

market in the next few months.

Behind these innovations, we have

of course artificial intelligence,

which is conquering all the new

devices, along with IoT and, as we

have already mentioned last year,

and are repeating this year, what we

have termed coinnovation. Evolving

market pressures across the globe

mean that to survive, manufacturers

have to find even more ways to


One of the results of this market

evolution and coinnovation is that

the coming season will see the

introduction of a huge range of new

products. I am quite optimistic for

IFA itself, with exhibitors bringing all

these new products and innovations

into the market, I believe retailers

and consumers will be convinced that

it is the right time to buy.

What would you say are the key

themes at IFA this year?

5G will certainly be one of the key

trends. As one of the largest 5G

manufacturers for both backbone

and consumer devices, the opening

keynote by Huawei is indicative

of the importance of this. With a

number of speakers and exhibitors

centered on 5G at IFA this year, we

will understand where technology

and products will move in the near


A recent report from the European

Commission says 5G will be

challenging. How important does

that make IFA as a gathering point to

bring it all together more rapidly?

The talk about 5G is similar to what

we experienced in the past with the

implementation of LTE or 3G. The

difference is that we will see two

kinds of networks: public networks

for general consumers, and privatelyowned

networks, which will be faster

to roll-out. We will soon have 5G

mobile phones, but they will be quite

expensive. These will be picked-up by

early adopters, who want the newest,

most advanced devices they can get,

but on average this will not be the

case. In the short term, we will see

privately owned and run networks,

such as the one at Camp Nou stadium

in Barcelona. Big companies are

looking to establish their own 5G

networks in order to have very fast

data transfer, to run autonomous

cars on their grounds and so on. So, I

believe 5G will arrive quite quickly in

the private sector, but probably a bit

slower for the consumers.

Overall, there are two main

megatrends, “always connected” and

“giants of data”. Indeed, the influence

of big data on the economy, politics





IFA executive director Jens

Heithecker gives his outlook for

this year’s show

and society has been growing for

years. The resulting opportunities

and risks are the subject of discussion

among renowned speakers within

the cluster “Society” at the IFA+

Summit. We are celebrating the

connected world because this is

what the consumer can feel, see and

experience. When I get into my car

it tells me automatically, “If you’re

going home, it will take 20 minutes”.

That is “always connected”: you don’t

think about it you just see it. For

the manufacturing companies and

network operators, it is a different

challenge. Through the growing

influence of algorithms, big data, AI

and robotics on our lives, a host of

ethical questions arise. How can we

handle these technologies? Which

moral principles do we equip Artificial

Intelligence with? The “giants of data”

are going beyond building networks;

they have to play out the data in the

most efficient, ethical way. That is the

current challenge

www.ifa-international.org IFA International • Monday 2 September 2019


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