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issue: June 2009 APPLIANCE Magazine

Europe Report
Anticipating Appliances @ IFA ‘09


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by Paul Roggema, Europe correspondent

ON LOCATION: APPLIANCE magazine was in sunny Malta, April 18-19, for an intermediate press conference for the upcoming Appliances@IFA trade show in Berlin.

Appliances @ IFA had a strong launch in 2008 — but is the industry support still there?

IFA, held annually in Berlin, has long been Europe’s biggest trade show for consumer electronics and in 2008, with the backing of several European appliance OEMs, the Appliances @ IFA pavilion was added to the fair. The 2008 event was widely described as a success.

Still, several European appliance trade fairs have gone from boom to bust in recent decades. This tumultuous history, complicated by the economic crises that followed on the heels of IFA 2008, naturally raised the levels of concern about the 2009 Appliances event. But in Malta, several white goods manufacturers were supporting the Appliances @ IFA event, including BSH, Miele, Philips, and the new arrival in the white goods business, Panasonic.

Of course, manufacturers are still working on the new products that they’ll launch at the September fair, so there is enough time for informal meetings and entertainment in Malta. In fact, there were new industry trends being discussed—if few secrets to be heard. Would BSH be able to top last year’s success at IFA, when it offered a new dryer, dishwasher, and coffee maker? The BSH crew wouldn’t spill their secrets but told us not to worry—they would surprise us again. Miele pleased attendees with perfect coffee from their premium built-in coffeemaker. Meanwhile, Panasonic announced its entry into the European white goods business.

Panasonic displayed a horizontal-drum washer with a capacity of 7 kg. The washer is quite unusual for Europe, being designed with 3D movement sensing, a tilted drum, and direct-drive motor all within the standard 60 cm form factor.

Philips showed two new products carrying their Green logo: an iron in which the unnecessary steam production, while standing up, was eliminated, and a vacuum cleaner with a redesigned HD motor that offers 30% improved efficiency. Philips’ spectacular new flat screen TV in the Cinema format (21:9) was displayed. The company again explained its strategy to keep up with the cutthroat competition from Japanese, Korean, and Chinese producers: offer special and unique features like modern design, perfect motion and sharpness, the popular Ambilight backlighting capability, and the new Cinema format.

The good news in the consumer electronics world was that, according to market researcher GfK, the market for CE is doing relatively well (still a 4% worldwide growth for 2008). Some European markets remain strong (Germany) and others are indeed suffering (such as the United Kingdom and Spain). Flat TV’s, mobile phones, and laptops show strong sales, despite drops in average price per unit (for instance more than 20% for LCD TVs). European countries vary quite a bit in habits: the UK is leading in TV trends: the household penetration of flat screens is by far the highest at 80% (compared to 64% in Spain, 48% in Germany, and 52% in France).

IFA staff said most participants from 2008 will be exhibiting again in 2009. Whirlpool Corp., however, was not at the 2008 event and is not booked to exhibit in 2009.

IFA, along with Appliances @ IFA, will take place Sept. 4-9, 2009, at Messe Berlin.

 

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