IFA 2020 will be taking place as an in-person event in Berlin this fall, conference organizers announced. However, it’ll look very different than previous years due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has seen almost every other major technology conference canceled or moved online this year.
Set to run from September 3rd–5th, it’ll mark the first major conference to take place in the technology industry. “After all the event cancellations during the past months, our industry urgently needs a platform where it can showcase its innovation, so that it can recover and rebound,” commented Jens Heithecker, the executive director of IFA Berlin, noting that digital events could only do so much to replace the “immediacy, hands-on experience and human connections” of events like IFA.
— IFA Berlin (@IFA_Berlin) May 19, 2020
In April, organizers teased that the conference would be taking place as “an innovative new concept” this year due to the challenges of the virus and the fact that the government of the city of Berlin has banned any events with more than 5,000 participants from taking place in the city until at least October 24th. To that end, IFA 2020 will be closed to the public, and it’ll operate on a far more limited scope. This year’s conference will be invite-only and divided into four smaller events, with no more than 1,000 attendees allowed at each event each day.
Additionally, conference organizers say that they’re working closely with public health authorities in Germany to ensure that “social distancing, careful crowd control and other effective public hygiene measures are all in place” for the conference.
Those four events will include the main IFA Global Press Conference, which will be limited to just two to three keynotes stages curated by IFA for about 800 journalists to keep numbers down for both production staff and reporters. Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon is set to deliver the opening keynote. IFA will also be hosting three parallel, separate events: one that combines its IFA Next and IFA Shift Mobility events into a single live event, one that’s splitting off IFA Global Markets to help companies rebuild their supply chains, and one that will offer the usual meeting spaces and lounges for companies.
IFA will also offer a variety of digital events for those who can’t (or, given the state of the world, would prefer not to) attend in person, which will be far less limited in terms of attendance.
At a time when nearly every major in-person event has been forced to either cancel entirely or radically rethink how to present information to customers and companies, all eyes will be on IFA this fall as the first attempt at holding a traditional event.