Ahead of IFA 2019 next week, Forrester’s Vice Presidents & Principal Analysts Thomas Husson and Frank Gillett have shared their thoughts on the key themes and trends he expects to come out of the event.

Thomas’ comment takes a look at the ongoing hype of 5G, the issues around the US/Chinese technology war and the emphasis on smart home products and voice-based assistants, while Frank delivers his insights on privacy features in consumer electronics and emerging trends around IFA 2019.

Thomas Husson, Vice President & Principal Analyst:
“IFA in Berlin is always a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the future and to discuss key technology trends and how they will impact brands and society. Eight months after CES, the debate on smart connectivity, AI and automation will continue with a stronger emphasis on privacy and security and the opportunity for European and lower-profile brands to try to stand out from the crowd.

I don’t expect any new flagship product announcement from the likes of Samsung or Huawei. In the context of the US/Chinese technology war, it is more likely Huawei will focus on its chip business to highlight its ability to reduce its dependency on US vendors and to launch new business opportunities with external partners and developers. 

The hype on 5G and foldable technology will continue but reality is consumer electronic brands will launch many new and undifferentiated mid-range smartphones, TVs, wearables and hearables. Whether Sony leverages the 40th anniversary of the Walkman brand to launch new wireless earbuds, it is likely we will see several audio gear product announcements and more fitness trackers.

I’d expect this year again a lot of emphasis on smart home products and voice-based assistants: while adoption and usage vary a lot in each European country, Europe overall lags behind the US and China. Costs and privacy concerns remain the primary inhibitors, with up to 47% of German consumers concerned usage of smart home devices and services could compromise the privacy of their personal information.”

Frank Gillett, Vice President & Principal Analyst:

“The largest European countries have distinct preferences for how they choose, buy and use smart home products. IFA Berlin is a key event that lets consumers get first hand exposure to the latest products and trends. This matches a general European preference for in-person retail learning, especially among French consumers.

The distinct European preference for privacy means that consumer electronics companies must offer solid privacy features and preferences, such as storing video locally, rather than in cloud services.

Despite being first to market for smart speakers in the US, Amazon is neck and neck with Google in Europe, as Google has matched or beat Amazon to market in Europe, with its advantage in language localization and the broad European adoption of its Android smartphone OS and search engine.

Smart displays, smart speakers with a display added, such as the Google Nest Hub and the Amazon Echo Show 5, will be an emerging trend, especially with prices under 100 Euros.”