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Day 4 - IFA International

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  • September
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News Making sense of the

News Making sense of the ‘Internet of things’ IBM’s Michael Rhodin shares his vision of what change means IBM’s Michael Rhodin: “Products are becoming intelligent” The kitchen of the future is sharpening the knives for companies who don’t take full advantage of technological progress, according to Michael Rhodin, Senior Vice- President of IBM Software Solutions Group. Rhodin told his IFA keynote audience that the coming ‘Internet of things’ – ubiquitous broadband, smart devices and digitisation of content – surely brings great promise, but is also a disruptive force and one that is not yet entirely recognised. “Products are becoming intelligent,” said Rhodin, the former general manager of Lotus Software. “We can respond to changes quickly and accurately, and get better results by predicting and optimising for future events. But electronics companies have yet to really capitalise on these opportunities.” There are 2.3 billion isolated CE devices in the world. Commoditisation pressure is real and increasing. In 2009, the CE market saw an 8% decline in overall revenue, even though unit volumes increased by 10%, Rhodin said. Smartphones, one of today’s most successful product lines and hottest markets, lost four points of margin in the last two years. Rhodin argued that the competition is intensifying from service-oriented companies like software providers and bigbox retailers. “They are taking market share away from traditional electronics companies by using new services,” he said. This means electronics makers need to consider new ways to change the game. “You can’t be satisfied with the optimisation of devices,” Rhodin added, pointing to IBM itself as an example. Big Blue started as a typewriter company; as a PC hardware maker it was an early pioneer but lost its way. It then decided to give up hardware in favour of enterprise consultation and services. This does not mean consultancy is the future, however. Rhodin returned to the kitchen and its possibilities for both connectivity and service: “It’s not just about washing machines that can run when energy prices are low. It’s about communicating how much consumers are able to save as a result. It’s not about dryers that can call for service before they break down. It’s about making sure that the service man actually shows up.” Bringing eco-friendly appliances to the masses Dr Kurt-Ludwig Gutberlet: leading the green debate Dr Kurt-Ludwig Gutberlet has made energy efficiency a central part of his business – and he used IFA to urge the CE industry to do the same. In a rousing address to delegates, the Chairman of the Board of Management and CEO of BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte, urged the home-appliance industry to bring eco-friendly appliances to the masses. Dr Gutberlet described the energy-efficiency challenges facing the industry as “demanding in the extreme”. He added: “Energy costs are increasing while major resources are frequently located in politically unstable regions. Meanwhile, the threatening scenario of climate change looms increasingly in the foreground.” Peppered with details of energy-consumption patterns in Germany and elsewhere, Dr Gutberlet pointed out that “superefficient” appliances amounted to less than 10% of the European market. He called for the further roll out of appliances such as the i-Dos automatic-dosing washing machine, which saves water consumption by matching detergent measures to the soiling of clothing, while highlighting the different consumption patterns of energy-friendly appliances in Europe. In his homeland of Germany, A++ refrigerators have a market share of 20%, while in Spain the ‘top-performer’ label still does not yet account for even 1% of refrigerator purchases. Dr Gutberlet highlighted three key challenges that must be overcome to make the home-appliance industry more ecofriendly: broad market penetration with super-efficient appliances in the short-to-medium term, the further reduction of power and water consumption through product innovation and the incorporation of household appliances into intelligent networks. Emphasising that his speech was not just part of a shortterm “seen-to-be-green image”, Dr Gutberlet called for the industry to unite with other key global stakeholders to tackle the impending threat of environmental catastrophe. He pointed to the growing global water scarcity crisis, which has already resulted in almost 900 million people not having sufficient access to safe drinking water. “Even if we manufacturers, traders and non-governmental agencies do not always have identical interests, we must work together when it comes to the major project of sustainably reducing resource consumption and mitigating climate change,” he said. IFA International • Monday, 6 th September 2010 7

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