The Internationale Funkausstellung, better known as IFA, is upon us. It’s an annual gadget fest billed as the biggest in Europe and a regular source of pre-Christmas goodies for tech enthusiasts.
So you might think that covering IFA as a journalist would be fun. No, it’s a nightmare. Here’s why:
1) It takes place in Berlin’s labyrinthine Messegelaende, or fairground. The place is a 1960s concrete jungle and nobody can tell you for sure how to get from A to B, especially on the press days when stalls are still under construction and entire hangars are strewn with palettes and cardboard boxes.
2) Those big name manufacturers that do come (Apple doesn’t) often stage their own pre-show launch elsewhere in Berlin. This year, Samsung, Asus and Lenovo shuttled people away from the Messegelaende, presumably because it’s just not suitable for a really cool event.
3) Because so many events are scheduled simultaneously, journalists wanting to cover IFA are often left watching the live-stream that could be viewed from anywhere (especially places with better Internet connection).
4) While many bloggers hoover up the swag, anyone with a set of journalistic ethics has to turn down the freebies lest it compromise their judgment.
And still IFA is worth covering, because it provides an insight into consumer trends and shows you what companies are betting big bucks on. If you want to know what the average European consumer wants _ or at least what major corporations think s/he wants _ IFA offers a fantastic periscope into the world of technology six months from now.
[this post was completely rewritten on Sept. 12. 2015]