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IFA 2013 GPC: How Product Categories Play the Game of Thrones to Win Audiences
By Terence Ang - on 30 Apr 2013, 6:00pm

The annual IFA Global Press Conference, or IFA GPC, organized by Messe Berlin and gfu, was held in Sardinia, Italy in April 2013. Held over two days, the conference drew 300 journalists from as far as Australia (the country's first time), United States, Europe, Africa and of course Asia (including HardwareZone.com), to the scenic island resort of Forte Village, south of the capital Cagliari, near the village of Pula. There, journalists were given insights into how the current consumer electronics and digital home appliance markets were doing, particularly in Europe, considering how badly affected this market has been since the crisis in 2011-2012.

Dr. Christian Goke, current Chief Operating Officer of Messe Berlin, promotes a dynamic IFA for this year's show strategy to the GPC attendees. Dr. Goke will assume the role of the CEO of Messe Berlin from July 2013 onwards.

Before we go into that analysis, here're some facts: The 2013 IFA consumer electronics trade show will be held in Berlin, Germany from 6-11 September 2013. Last year, the IFA event attracted 1,439 exhibitors with an area space of 142,200 square meters and businesses traded exceeded 3.8 billion euros. Attendance was 240,000. So pretty big numbers.

Unlike the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), traditionally held in January in Las Vegas every year, the IFA show has a few major differences:

  • It's held in September, which is closer to Christmas and the buying season, so it gives visitors a better forecast of what's coming out and what's still in limbo. CES normally shows you what's in development or prototype (but we suspect IFA 2013 might change a little moving into this competitive dynamic).
  • Besides consumer electronics, it's has entire halls dedicated to innovations in domestic appliance like high-tech shavers, smart ovens, cooker hubs, sophisticated coffee machines, energy-efficient vacuum cleaners, washing machines and so on.
  • It's all in one giant convenient area called the Fairgrounds (unlike CES, which requires some commuting around between hotels and exhibition halls). Oh, did we mention that they celebrate Oktoberfest from late September to October in Germany?

Exhibitors like DeLonghi, Loewe, Panasonic, Bosch, Philips and of course, Samsung, were at the GPC to share some of their launched products and solutions. For Samsung at least, Michael Zoeller, Senior Director of Sales, Marketing, Samsung Europe, has announced that more Ultra HD displays will be launched at IFA 2013 above and below the current 85-inch S series.

For HardwareZone.com, being based in Singapore with regional representations in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, we're proud to share that this year's IFA show will feature a Singapore Pavilion for the first time in Berlin, Germany. What this means is that Singapore-based companies will be given the opportunity to exhibit their latest designs and innovations in collaboration with the Singaporean-German Chamber, supported by the International Enterprise Singapore.

Not only that, what we do know from the IFA organizers is that exhibitors at this year's September show will make the show a major focus for their product lifecycle, so expect newer products announced and ready to market in time for the Christmas and holiday season in December (see bullet point 1 above).

Of course, with the IFA show being held in Europe, most would ask if the current turmoils and suppressed economies of countries like Greece and Cyprus would impact the show. Here's a look at a doom-and-gloom chart by analyst firm GfK below. The basic premise is that while major economies like France, Germany, Austria and UK will experience economic improvements in 2013 compard to 2012, Southern European economies like Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal and the Netherlands will remain in negative growth territory, at least until 2014. 

Comparing GDP growth of some European countries between 2012 and 2013, predictions are that Germany, France, Austria and UK will see economic improvements year-on-year.

Europe holds a quarter of the world's digital market, but the chart shows a decreasing share into a forecasted 2014. What is increasing though is Emerging Asian countries, like South East Asian economies - Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and of course, China and India.

For HardwareZone's audiences, we've decided to put a magnifying glass on how the Emerging and Developed Asian economies will fare going into 2014. With a forecasted 25% share of the global digital market in emerging Asian markets (36% if you include Developed Asia like Japan and South Korea), exactly what will drive this growth moving into 2014, as forecasted by GfK? Since we know there's going to be a Singapore Pavilion at this year's IFA, wouldn't it put better focus on what Asia can contribute at a major consumer electronics and domestic appliance show in the world?

Here, take a look. Unsurprisingly of course, in South-east Asia alone, a significant portion of this digital market growth will be driven by telecommunications. What's even more unsurprising is that smartphones are consuming most of the 'photo' category by subsuming the 8-megapixel cameras category and below. If you look around you these days, most dedicated digital cameras are touting a minimum 10 megapixels sensors and above. GfK expects this trend to continue and intensify even more going into 2014.

Unsurprisingly, telecommunications (light blue) form the largest growth area for emerging asian countries in South-East Asia, with IT (dark blue) second, Consumer Electronics third, and Photography fourth. 

Comparing sales units and sales value of major consumer goods (CE, Photo, IT, Telecommunications) and major domestic appliance (MDA) sold in 2011 and 2012, it's pretty obvious that while telecoms take up a chunk of the attention, with CE a distant second, the rest of the industries (photography, IT and domestic appliances) are still facing a glut going into 2012, albeit with improvements (with the exception for digital cameras and photography). 

The overall volume and value of consumer goods and appliances in Asia Pacific indicate a massive trajectory in the mobile category and contraction in consumer electronics.

One of the market share grab-a-thon trends we're seeing is how camera phones are outselling cameras in South-east Asia. While this is unexpected, most of these new camera phones tout 8-megapixel cameras and below, they are inadvertently shutting out the traditional camera market in the lower tiers and gradually phasing them out.

In the IT category for APAC countries, tablets are battling the notebooks space for market share. While the impact seem minimal in 2012, this will be felt in 2013 going into 2014.

While camera phones and digital cameras tussle it out in the Photo and Telecoms categories, on the IT category, notebooks, ultra-thins, desktops and all-in-ones are combating a different turf war of their own. The chart above shows how progressive tablets have become in occupying the IT space, with a 23% volume share in 2012. While notebooks continue to dominate with 48% share in 2012, this has shrunk from a dominant 56% in 2011 (8% drop) versus tablets' 8% rise from 15% in 2011.

So we know there are battles happening in different industries. The final major battle however, happens in the CE category. Four major houses, I mean, technologies in the TV industry are trying to out-do each other for market share -- these are TVs with Internet-based functions (commonly known as Smart TVs), LED, Plasma and 3D technologies, or a combination of any of these four. A fifth technology, or screen size, UHD, or Ultra HD, will come into the fray sometime soon, as more models enter the market, and the broadcast, studios and content industries embrace new and different UHD content strategies.

Smart TV volume shipment seems to be rising in Emerging APAC countries (South-East Asian, Indochina countries), but with lower tendency to adopt new tech like 3D and LED, compared to China and Developed APAC countries.

Expect 3D TV and Smart TV prices to fall even more going into the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2013. Factors like product saturation and competing content platforms (from tablets and phones) may have contributed to the dwindling prices.

So in conclusion, we know that Emerging Asian economies are propping up the digital markets in the world with a 25% share, so expect to see some presence or influence at IFA 2013 in September (including a Singapore Pavilion). We also know that in the three major categories, different product categories are out-doing one another for market share in specific ranges: camera phones and cameras; tablets and notebooks/desktops; and the different technologies in the TV/CE category. It's easier to guess how these will pan out moving into 2014, while others are harder to predict.

Terence Ang

Terence Ang / Former Supervising Editor for HWM, HardwareZone.com & GameAxis

Terence Ang used to be the Supervising Editor for the New Media division in Singapore, where he worked with the editorial teams behind HardwareZone.com and HWM the magazine. In that role, he looked at ways the teams in Singapore can collaborate with the Editors in Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. Terence is currently the Product Manager but contributes to the blog section whenever he can (or finds something interesting to talk about).