It’s the one most of the tech industry held out for this year as it was due to be in September, after the summer holiday rush, and critically far enough into the year that, hopefully, planet earth would have COVID under control! Sadly, that last point isn’t achievable, and IFA 2021 in Berlin has been cancelled.
IFA 2021 Berlin – Cancelled
It’s one of the biggest and most important tech events held in Europe every year, and despite the IFA organisers being optimistic of the event going ahead in Berlin at the start of September, they’ve now confirmed it’s been cancelled.
The press statement points to the increase of new variants in COVID-19 being a primary cause for this decision and a very mixed vaccine roll-out in different countries. It may be a European event, but IFA has always had a huge global draw from brands, press and consumers.
It claims the organisers took guidance from public health officials in Germany and the stakeholders (brands) before making this choice.
Amazingly, MWC 2021 in Barcelona is still due to go ahead in June, despite almost every big brand having already dropped out with concerns around the pandemic and the safety of their employees.
What has surprised me is that IFA Berlin 2021 has been cancelled completely, there’ll not even be a digital or hybrid event!
Last year, IFA delivered a Special Edition event for some 600 press only, mostly due to the number of Covid cases having hugely dropped by the summer months in Europe.
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I was able to attend the Special Edition 2020 event, and although it was far from the IFA experience, so many of us know and love (or hate!), it was an incredibly well run conference under challenging circumstances. Even the brands that did attend really put an effort in, and I was shouting about it at the time on Twitter.
Yet, it appears there will be nothing at all to mark IFA 2021, no Berlin, no Digital experience, cancelled really does mean cancelled this year.
Conferences in all sectors have been hit badly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and IFA 2021 in Berlin is not the only one to be cancelled. The question is, when will they start up again?
Yes, MWC is (still, at the time of writing) going ahead as a hybrid event, but I expect the halls in Barcelona to be empty from both brands and attendees this year.
CES in Las Vegas, probably the biggest tech event, is moving back to a physical, and digital event in January 2022, which is hopefully a more achievable one to happen, given the vaccine roll-out in the US and gives everyone a few extra months before thinking about heading out there.
So far, the digital events held by conferences and brands in 2020/21 have been great, but they cannot replace the experience of being there in person and getting to try out the latest devices and gadgets.
I’m gutted to see IFA Berlin cancelled for 2021. Despite my constant moaning about getting lost in the maze of halls every year when I’m there, it’s a superb and important event on the tech calendar. Ultimately, I know the organisers have made a tough but right choice.
Hopefully, this will shift the focus on to 2022 and everyone can get a head start in delivering an even bigger IFA next year.