Organisers of Berlin consumer electronics show IFA committed to running its annual event in September as a massively reduced physical show, bucking a trend for virtual-only conferences during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

The event will go ahead with vastly reduced attendee numbers and various social distancing measures in place to meet strict public health rules expected to be still in place when it kicks-off on 3 September.

Its new format will see IFA split into four standalone strands each with a limit of 1,000 attendees per day and strict guest lists. Unlike previous years it will be completely closed to the public and cut from almost a week to three days. A virtual event will be provided for those unable to attend.

Standalone segments will cover media; start-ups; technical experts; and retailers and brands. All sessions will be on-site rather than spread across Berlin, as would usually be the case.

Should there be a second wave of the virus, organisers plan to hold IFA as a completely virtual event.

Pent-up demand
IFA executive director Jens Heithecker (pictured) noted international attendees could still be subject to travel restrictions, but he was confident the event would be a success and safe using the new format.

He added the event would meet the needs of media, brands, manufacturers and retailers.

“Berlin has been one of the few capital cities in the world relatively unaffected by coronavirus,” he said, noting IFA was important for exhibitors ahead of key retail sales seasons where he expects “pent-up demand” for products.

IFA organisers gfu consumer & home electronics pulled the plug on IFA in its expected format in April when Berlin’s authorities banned events of more than 5,000 people until 24 October as part of measures to limit the spread of Covid-19.

In 2019, the event hosted 240,000 attendees alongside 2,000 exhibitors covering major consumer technology companies showcasing mobile devices, digital cameras, TVs, connected wardrobes and a range of other gadgets.

It is also often used for a number of new product launches from the likes of Samsung and Sony.