IFA 2020: physical event maintained but closed to the public

Unlike many trade shows and tech conventions this year, which were canceled due to COVID-19, the IFA 2020 is still trying to hold its own. The organizers of this great tech fair in Berlin assured us at the beginning of May that they had already thought of an alternative format that would be suitable for the unprecedented sanitary circumstances. We finally learn a little more after a press conference broadcast online on Tuesday, May 19.

The coronavirus has changed our lifestyles forever. “The world after is still far away, but the world before is outdated,” says Jens Heithecker, Managing Director of IFA 2020. The motto is to find “a solution to maintain the intrinsic identity of this unique event while ensuring the safety and health of all.”

“Business as usual is not an option,” but the director of the IFA is adamant that “without human connections, without meeting real people, without seeing each other, it’s not the same thing”. This doctrine of connecting people is certainly good news, but it only applies to professionals in the industry.

The IFA 2020 will go ahead in a partially physical form but the general public is not invited. “The IFA will remain the IFA, but not like the version you may have known.”

A physical event from September 3 to 5, but closed to the public

The first piece of bad news for technophiles is that IFA 2020 will not be open to the public. A physical event is going ahead but will be reserved for industry professionals and the 800 invited journalists. The Berlin authorities currently prohibit gatherings of more than 5,000 people.

The IFA organization goes further by reducing this number to 1,000 people per event per day. “This will enable us to meet the needs of brands, retailers, and the media, while at the same time making it possible to control the flow of people and thus comply with social distancing measures,” explains Jens Heithecker, Managing Director of the IFA.

“#IFA20 will offer you a real-life experience and the human connections that we all crave… from Thursday, 3rd of September to Saturday, 5th of September.” pic.twitter.com/ad5sDOmOQe

— IFA Berlin (@IFA_Berlin)
May 19, 2020

The event will, therefore, be physical for the professionals of the sector but not to the crowd who will have to be content to follow the keynotes and “visit” the booths via online streaming. The event will take place from Thursday, September 3 to Saturday, September 5, 2020 and the videos streams will be “open to everyone everywhere in the world.”

So it is a maximum of 4,000 people who will be present, that is to say, 4 x 1000 for the whole duration of the show. Controls at the entrance will be carried out every day to control the affluence.

These four events will take place on the main stage, and all on the same exhibition site. One event per day, therefore, but there will also be a few physical stands of brands accessible to the media, for taking products in hand and exchanges with the said brands. But these events will be reserved exclusively for the media.

#IFA20 will focus ⁰on its four core functions:⁰

1. An innovation showcase for brands
2. A platform for cutting-edge technology
3. A global sourcing event for OEMs and ODMs
4. As a marketplace where retailers and brands can come together. pic.twitter.com/BK1qndj6Vd

— IFA Berlin (@IFA_Berlin)
May 19, 2020

During the press conference, Jens Heithecker was asked by AndroidPIT if this new format could be used for future editions of the IFA. According to the IFA director: “We think we’ll be very successful and if we are, then we can refine our plan, make it clearer, and add the magic of audience presence next year. Then we will definitely keep this new format smaller, more focused.”

The innovative side that was much promised in advance of this press conference is, therefore, taking a back seat. It is really a hybrid show – physical for professionals and digital for the public. Good news for us journalists, who will have to redouble our efforts to bring you the slightly disenchanted magic of this major tech event.