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.
IFA is also a nightmare to cover, because 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.
To make matters worse, 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 now suitable for a really cool event.
Journalists wanting to cover IFA are often left watching the live-stream that could be viewed from anywhere (especially places with better Internet connection). Interestingly, companies have figured out that there’s no point in giving swag to real reporters (who say ‘no’ lest it compromise their judgment) so shower bloggers with presents instead.
I think IFA is probably more fun when it opens to the general public, on Friday. By then the stalls will all be set up to show off new smartphones, intelligent vacuum cleaners and robotic kitchens. Obviously you’ll have to put up with tens of thousands of other people, though.