Over 300 of the top tech journalists from all over the world assembled in Dubrovnik, Croatia (northern Europe) to attend the IFA Global Press Conference 2012 to get updated on the latest trends and products in the world of consumer electronics. Chandragupta Amritkar reports from Dubrovnik
IFA Global Press Conference organised every year in April brings the best techno-journalists, research analysts, companies to an exotic location to present/ announce/ discuss/ argue/ debate over the future of CE trends, such as TVs, headphones, coffee machines and tablets. This year was no different as 300 journalists from all over the world assembled in Dubrovnik, Croatia (northern Europe). Brand manufacturers this year included Philips (and TPVision, their new TV outfit), Samsung, Sennheiser, Karcher, Panasonic, P2i (a liquid-repellent nano-coating technology provider for gadgets), Loewe, WMF, research analysts (GfK and DisplaySearch research firms) as well as two international panels of journalists.
Key industry trends and new products have been spotlighted at the "Power Briefing" sessions.
While every one thought Philips TV is dead and buried, it is all set to relaunch itself under a new brand TP Vision. Maarten de Vries, CEO of TP Vision made his first public appearance since the official launch of TP Vision a month back, at the IFA Global Press Conference in Dubrovnik. IFA is the world's most significant trade show for consumer electronics and home appliance.
TP Vision, the joint venture between TPV and Philips, announced a bright future for the TV manufacturing organisation. "Our clear mission is to regain the lead position with Philips TV in our key markets using the combined support and strength of our two parent companies," said Maarten de Vries. Based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, TP Vision is the exclusive brand licensee of Philips TV. The Company is 70% owned by TPV and 30% by Royal Philips Electronics, headquartered in the Netherlands.
Maarten de Vries said the new company would aim to create a "superior experience" for the consumers, based on 3 key elements: Smart TV, user interaction and design. He also announced the soon to be released DesignLine Edge Smart LED TV. "Smart TV is a key area. 80% of sets in Philips new range are Smart TV enabled. 60% of owners, he said, actually use their functionality daily, using catch-up TV, social apps and leveraging other capabilities. With this evolution, user interaction is becoming even more important. To this end, Philips demonstrated a new remote control at the conference, a return to a more "classic" form, which, when flipped over, gives a mini keyboard allowing users to navigate the Internet more efficiently. The keys are automatically disabled when on the underside of the remote, coming into play only when turned "right side up", thus avoiding accidental key use.
TPV is the largest monitor manufacturer in the world and claims to be the biggest TV ODM in terms of unit shipment. TP Vision will be responsible for the design, manufacturing, distribution, marketing and sales of Philips' Television worldwide, with the exception of mainland China, India, United States, Canada, Mexico and certain countries in South America.
Wiebo Vaartjes, EVP and GM Philips Consumer Lifestyle said Philips is continuing to bring new audio solutions to the market, including sound bars, docking stations, small audio, DECT phones and video players. A major growth area is that of headphones. With smartphones, tablets, laptops, music and video in the cloud, one key element today is to have excellent sound quality, good design, and connectivity across various platforms. Vaartjes announced the launch of the Philips Fidelio hi-fi brand at the press event. This year, Philips is introducing its second generation of headphones - Fidelio M1, featuring acoustic closed back architecture with bass reflex system (BRS).
Samsung was also there to outline its plans to continue to dominate TV sales. Like TP Vision, Samsung had a lot of praise to share for the growth of smart TVs, but Samsung was also sharing some less than encouraging news about the growth of 3D TV sales. According to Samsung's projections, 3D TVs will only account for about 30% of TV sales in 2012, compared to about 60% of sales for smart TVs.
Samsung's European director of TV and AV, Michael Zoeller said smart interaction voice, gesture and face recognition are all part of the way forward. The new ES 8000 model TV includes a built-in microphone and camera. The marketing boss demonstrated a new fitness programme, using a "virtual mirror". In a foretaste of "what's to come for IFA, he announced a new OLED TV, which, he said, would be a "small surprise" in terms of design. For the first time, Samsung will be launching a luxury premium TV at IFA 2012, with what Zoeller described as a "new design concept".
Ivan Kwon, head of product management for Sennheiser's consumer division, announced two completely new headphones to be showcased at IFA 2012 in Berlin. The IE 800 - their new flagship in-ear headphone which Kwon says has a number of innovations, including a new patent pending acoustics system. The headphone uses a single dynamic driver and the interesting switch to oval (not circular) eartips. The headphone itself comes with an internal channel wideband driver, which is 7mm in diameter with Extra Wide Band sound quality. It has a new system with a frequency range from 8 to 46,500 Hz. The estimated price will be 599 Euros (Rs.40,000/-).
The HDVD 800 headphone amplifier will be Sennheiser's first foray into headphone amplifiers. This digital high fidelity amplifier gives the best sound possible with minimum distortion. The anodised aluminium amp supports up to 24-bit 192kHz sources and is made specifically for Sennheiser's own range of earphones, namely the HD 800, HD 700, HD 650 and HD 600. The estimated price will be 1499 Euros (Rs 99,000/-). The family owned company which has been the audio specialist for 60 years puts its level of achievement down to a solid philosophy coined by its founder Fritz Sennheiser: "Constant innovation is the key to our success". "CE consumers are willing to spend more money for their headphones than every before," said Kwon. "The growth in the market value of headphones has exceeded the growth in units sold over the past two years. We are confident we are on the right track." At the IFA GPC Dr Christian Göke, COO Messe Berlin said "The fact that the world of consumer electronics and home appliances attracts 140,000 trade visitors and more than 6,000 journalists to Berlin is without parallel anywhere in the world. The story continues in terms of growth and dynamic innovation. IFA is an ongoing success." He also stressed that the show was fully booked and new space will be available only after 2014 when a new hall will be built. He also assured that visitors would have a smooth ride to the venue as the new Berlin airport will be open by July.
Dr Rainer Hecker, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of gfu - Gesellschaft für Unterhaltungs- und Kommunikationselektronik said "Market growth, innovative technology and product trends have created a favourable environment for IFA 2012. This year one of the most important objective for the industry and the trade in 2012 is to achieve a shift from the destruction of values to value orientation. IFA as the leading market place and meeting point can contribute to such a common understanding on the way to a general shift from the destruction of values to value orientation."
Commenting on current market developments, Jürgen Boyny, Global Director, Consumer Electronics GfK Retail and Technology, said: "Since 2010 the markets for consumer electronics and home appliances have been growing worldwide. Projections for 2012 forecast global growth in the order of 3 to 5 per cent. This growth is taking place in emerging markets and is the result of innovation, in other words the products that are on show at IFA. Driving this growth are tablet PCs, smartphones and - less dynamically than in previous years - LCD TVs, along with LED TVs, 3-D and internet connectivity." IFA is scheduled to take place from 31 August to 5 September 2012 in Berlin.
(The writer is with Global Features and can be contacted at email@example.com)
IPFonline Limited, 2nd Floor, Shafika Building, 17/7 Kodambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai - 600 034.
Tel: +91 44 42991234 (30 Lines). Fax: +91 44 42108441. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org