Hello my Fellow Techsperts!
I am back…
Yes I have been away now for over a month and what a month that has been. It really has been the Christmas of announcements in the CE world and I am not just talking about the keynote from Apple.
I am of course talking about IFA.
I was fortunate to be able to attend IFA for the 2nd time this year. Held in the city of Berlin, IFA is the largest consumer electronics fair that kick starts the season into touch; the buzz is incredible (as well as the local beers of course!). With over 159,000 metres of space, brands will showcase their latest products and developments that have undoubtedly been speculated about in the press in the previous months. To walk end to end it takes around 40 minutes, so if ever you’re going to go, wear comfy shoes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you if you decide not to heed my advice.
This year IFA showcased more digital lifestyle products in one place vs any other fair in the world. With over 1800 exhibitors there really was something to capture anyone’s imagination.
So what were my favourites?
This year the Smartwatch section had a buzz coming from all the press and who was it about? Yes, Fossil Group. To quote Wareable “Fossil Group are killing it right now!” With products that have really stepped up in terms of tech, with features from heart rate, swimproof, untethered GPS, NFC to a handy rapid charge, the watches felt a mile apart from what was released last year. Not only is the tech on par with the rest of the market, but they actually look nice.
Not to go too much into opinions on other new releases, but can you honestly say that what other competitors are releasing are beautiful timepieces that also connect you to the wider world? Yes, they may have a super sports appearance, but Fossil have started to target this trend too by releasing silicone straps. Something you could wear to the gym and not worry about ruining. You can then take the silicone strap off by the quick release pins (yes, you don’t need to take to a store) and add a more dress style look. Couple that with the endless options of dials including your own social images, you can really use this watch for all occasions.
The look and feel is great, as well as the new tech. Running off of WearOS by Google, these watches are a neat bit of kit. I mean can your Apple watch work with an Android phone? No. These have the capability to do both, opening up to a wider market again. And with WearOS by Google becoming much smarter day by day including recent updates with the Google Fit application, it is a great partnership from both sides.
From brands like Fossil, Skagen through to Michael Kors, Emporio Armani and Diesel, Fossil Group have really invested in this new category, firming themselves as a key new player in an ever-changing market.
Let’s see what consumers now want from a Smartwatch. Having not had the option before, for me it is easy…
I have to admit the audio hall was by far one of my favourite halls to visit. There was something about the overall interactivity within it that was engrossing. Yamaha was most definitely up there for me.
With various instruments scattered (that makes it sound messy and it was far from that) throughout their massive m2 stand, Yamaha exhibited instruments from drums, grand pianos and beautifully crafted guitars. I am far from musically gifted (I did attend Stagecoach when younger, but I have lost a lot of that training growing up), but I could 100% appreciate how much interest Yamaha’s stand was receiving. Even on the Wednesday when everyone is ready to go home and have a little of normality back, they had people jamming along with their headphones on.
All instruments you could pick up and play. I was a little nervous to, mainly as I am super clumsy and I don’t think dropping or breaking anything would have gone down well. There is something about being able to try things out and use them like you would everyday, that encapsulates an audience. I said it in my last post. Real life products are key in the world of CE as it bring everything to life.
Bravo Yamaha…from a non musically gifted person, I thought your stand was all inclusive and engaging. Albeit that the concept was simple, it really worked.
Another audio brand, but for different reasons. Yes, their headphones are extremely comfortable to the ear and their new BeoSound Edge was definitely drawing attention to the stand (I personally wasn’t a fan. Too bulky for me and you’d need a mansion as a house not to walk into it if mounted!).
So what drew me in?
It was the way they presented their brand in more of a fashion way than any other audio brand exhibiting at IFA. The tones they have used as part of their new colour palette are divine. Very autumnal, warm and on trend for this season. It is rare to see an audio brand do this well and B&O were a real standout for me. Within the showcases they had leather swatches and colour inspiration, which really brought the whole product experience alive, but from an a-typical way of presenting fashion. It felt more like the seasonal colour inspiration of a catwalk collection or an interior designers handbook, than a typical technology brand plummeting you full of tech spec.
I loved it!
Well what can I say about LG other than WOW, WOW &…you guessed it WOW!
I like to compare this brand with another big player when coming to IFA (Samsung) and this year for me LG smashed them out of the water. Not only were the products super impressive especially the 8k TV’s coming through (the image is just insane), but LG presented their products to you with how you could use them and how they would fit into your environment. Samsung for me felt very disjointed, with product categories not flowing like they had the previous year.
LG had a huge space to play with and dependent on what end you entered in depended on what you saw 1st. For me it was the latest handset followed by some innovative and somewhat questionable speakers. For me some of them looked a little like an unfinished school project, but the demonstration on how they would be used is what drew me in.
All you’d have to do is pop your “LG” phone onto the top or specific slot within the unit and it would play the music. A great concept for a wireless speaker, just not sure the unfinished look is for me. However, the last one they demonstrated on, the LG G7 ThinQ (The Resonance), was by far the most finished product and something you could possibly consider if you like speakers that big and industrial looking.
From there the whole exhibit took you through a world that you couldn’t comprehend due to the sheer scale of it, but could also imagine how it could work in your world. Ok…the massive TV tunnel maybe not so much, but I was so engrossed. I must have looked like a kid when they 1st see their massive pile of presents at Christmas; mouth wide open and eyes all aglow.
I think one of my favourite spaces was a lounge that they had created, that featured the LG ThinQ OLED AI TV, that seriously looked like piece of art. They had even dressed it like your living room could be transformed into a gallery like setting. Paper thin and something that can be transformed into any picture, making everything that even more personal again. With built in Google Assistant, this is another brand that has made a great partnership with the Google giant, to enhance consumer experience and make life that little easier where possible. The LG ThinQ product range interacts with you daily and can better understand your usage pattern offering you experiences more tailored to your lifestyle.
What does this all mean? Well you can spend less time on tedious chores and spend more time on what matters most to you. Who wouldn’t want that from a smart range?
The one thing that LG did exceptionally, was to storytell throughout their exhibition; very well done LG.
So what else did I take out of IFA…?
No seriously, the standards of the whole exhibition were impressive and you could tell that people were wanting consumers and other exhibitors to engage and try out their products throughout (obviously with some being more successful than others).
As for new, life changing developments, I do feel like they are ever advancing with the likes of AI or VR, but for me there was nothing brand new out there. Everything that I saw had some tweaks to what is currently in the market, but equally I felt like I had read a lot about this prior to IFA. I don’t recall there being a massive announcement that was kept under wraps prior to the fair; maybe this happened in the talks prior to my arrivals.
What did you think?
Is this because the consumers haven’t quite bought into it yet? Or is there something round the corner that will considerably change the CE market? One thing I would say is that all of the smart kitchen appliances are fabulous and I would no doubt have one in the future, but at the price we are seeing it is still unattainable for the average Joe. Until we can get these products at a market leading price, as consumers are super savvy these days, they will not be in every household like a normal fridge, cooker top or washing machine.
The one thing I did notice quite strongly was the partnerships across brands with the likes of Amazon or Google. There is clear rivalry between these two businesses and this came through strongly with partnership choices. I am a Google-ite through and through, maybe that’s why I was drawn to LG too, but I do think that the “power of voice” is a key trend that we are seeing throughout the CE world now. It is becoming so intuitive and clever day by day that soon enough it will be a household norm, without even a question.
So that’s another IFA done…bring on 2019!
…Until next time my fellow Techsperts
P.S. – it has taken me 3 weeks to write this just to absorb it all and recover!