Messe Berlin and gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH announced that IFA 2021 will not take place in September as a physical live event as originally planned, due to new COVID-19 variants.
The 2020 edition of IFA Berlin was an in-person event, although with reduced numbers onsite, when compared to the 2019 edition. The 2020 edition was also an online event, and the organizers presented the IFA Xtended Space – the premium virtual add-on to the IFA 2020 Special Edition, stating that “for all who couldn´t make it to the IFA 2020 Special Edition we brought the digital world and the analogue world together!” and presenting it as a groundbreaking design experience journey.
When the 2020 edition ended, the Messe Berlin and gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH hoped to see everyone in person at the IFA Berlin 2021. One month ago, in April, the organizers said that “with the world on course to emerge from the pandemic, IFA Berlin is set to take place as a full-scale, real-life event from 3 – 7 September 2021” and invited those interested to “get ready for the full-scale return of the world’s leading tech industry event”. Well, that’s not going to happen!
According to the organizers of the event new global health uncertainties force cancellation of IFA BERLIN 2021. The decision to not go ahead with the September edition of the world’s leading trade show for consumer and home electronics follows detailed conversations with public health experts and multiple stakeholders. The information made available now indicates that “Ultimately, several key global health metrics did not move as fast in the right direction as had been hoped for – from the rapid emergence of new COVID-19 variants, for example in South Asia, to continued uncertainties about the speed of the rollout of vaccination programmes around the world.”
The situation, the organizers say “is adding uncertainty for the companies that were committed or interested in coming to Berlin, as well as media and visitors – all of whom have to plan well ahead with regards to budgets, investments and travel – not just for IFA, but all similar events around the world. Another consideration is the fact that Messe Berlin continues to support the fight against COVID-19 by converting parts of its exhibition area into a vaccination centre and an emergency hospital facility; both are now likely to be required for longer than originally anticipated.”
Covid-19 variants introduced too many risks
“Innovation needs a platform; it needs the focus of global attention. That’s why brands and manufacturers across the tech industry were very keen to come to IFA Berlin 2021. Unfortunately, the latest public health developments introduced too much risk into everybody’s planning for the event,” said Kai Hillebrandt, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH. “There simply are now too many uncertainties. Therefore, right now it has become near impossible for anyone to responsibly plan their participation in any trade show.”
“We did not take this decision lightly. IFA Berlin is arguably the most important event of the year for brands and retailers alike. IFA Berlin connects our industry with trade visitors, media and real consumers like no other event. However, the health and safety of everybody has to be absolutely paramount. The efforts to contain this pandemic – from the roll-out of vaccination programs to the resumption of international travel – did not happen at the pace we had hoped for. Given these developments, this difficult and disappointing decision was inevitable,” said Martin Ecknig, the CEO of Messe Berlin.
IFA Berlin returns in 2022
Preparations for Berlin Photo Week at ARENA Berlin and SHIFT Mobility are continuing as planned. The organisers of IFA are now working with their partners from industry, trade and media to get everything ready for IFA 2022, which will be held as a full-scale live event at the Berlin exhibition grounds. IFA, the world’s most significant trade show for consumer and home electronics with a record number of new products being unveiled is the main market place for key retailers, buyers, and experts from the industry and the media. IFA 2022 takes place in Berlin from 2-6 September.
The news may be an indication of what to expect from other shows around the world, as the Covid-19 situation develops. Even though in 2020 IFA Berlin had an online component, there is no information, at the moment, if the organizers will have any type of virtual event prepared for September 2021.