IFA bills itself as the world’s leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances. It is Europe’s answer to the annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas and analysts are predicting that connected devices will take centre stage.
Samsung versus Apple
South Korea’s Samsung Electronics has thrown punches ahead of IFA, releasing both the Galaxy Alpha smartphone and the Gear S smartwatch in the preceding weeks. The watch can be linked with Samsung smartphones, keeping users locked in the electronic giant’s ecosystem.
“The battle for the high end is still Samsung versus Apple,” Neil Mawston, mobile analyst at Strategy Analytics, told CNBC by phone. “It is important that Samsung dominates IFA and generates as many headlines(as possible?), because this is probably its last before Apple takes on the battle in the next few weeks.”
Next up is the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, which Samsung is expected to unveil at its pre-IFA “Unpacked” event this Wednesday—just days before Apple is slated to release its iWatch and much-anticipated iPhone 6.
“The Note 4 is important because that is the new exciting model and Samsung needs to get the products in before Apple unveils its own new portfolio,” said Mawston.
This year’s IFA could be more “smartphone-centric” in general, analysts said, with manufacturers also releasing new devices that connect to smartphones, like smartwatches.
“Manufacturers are finding it hard to make money in the smartphone market, and the accessory market is more fluid and up for grabs, everyone is trying to establish themselves,” Ian Fogg, head of mobile analysis at IHS, told CNBC by phone.
For instance, Samsung’s Korean rival LG Electronics also released a smartwatch last week in the build-up to IFA. The G Watch R is the second smartwatch it has launched.
Another example of a recently launched mobile-connected device is Samsung’s Gear Circle, which was released at the same time as the Gear S. The Gear Circle a necklace-shaped set of headphones that allows users to answer calls and listen to music at the same time, when paired with a smartphone.
Homes are set to become “smart” as the “Internet of things” – everyday devices that are connected online – looks to explode. Smart home technology such as fridges or security systems connected to the internet is likely to be on show at IFA.
“Smart technology is being interwoven into everything we do and increasingly everything we wear,” George O’Connor, senior technology analyst at Panmure Gordon, told CNBC in a phone interview. “Smart is the overriding message, smart everywhere. This is a big story we haven’t even started to tap into.”
Companies like Google, with its acquisition of smart thermostat maker Nest Labs in January, are making big bets on the smart home industry, in which revenues are set to hit $71 billion by 2018, according to Juniper research.