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CeBIT fair to boost consumer electronics

CeBIT's two deadliest rivals are the CES, held every Jan and the IFA consumer electronics show held in Berlin.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2006 11:21 IST

CeBIT, the world's biggest combined computer and telecommunications show plans to boost its consumer electronics section as it fends off competitors.

CeBIT's two deadliest rivals are the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held every January in Las Vegas with some 2,500 exhibitors and the IFA consumer electronics show held in Berlin in September.

The week-long fair in Hanover that got underway Thursday, is suffering from the bow-wave of a trend known as convergence.

Today's television sets, recording devices, music players and mobile phones are all in fact tiny specialized computers using technologies invented in the IT industry.

This trend has advanced so far that there is practically no major manufacturer left that has not gone digital.

Philips for example has turned its back on CeBIT this year, but there are still plenty of consumer electronics brands among the 6,300 exhibitors, and CeBIT organizers are doing their best to keep them.

Although CeBIT is aimed primarily at professionals, there is no filtering of visitors apart from the hefty entrance fee.

"We are not excluding consumers at all," explains CeBIT spokesperson Gabriele Doerries. "There are plenty of things for them to look at."

The consumer ranges have been concentrated in a section of the fair dubbed "Digital Living", with lots of goodies like the latest flat-panel televisions amongst others.

Unfortunately for CeBIT, manufacturers have not been entirely thrilled, and bookings for this lifestyle show have been disappointing. There are fears that the first "Digital Living" might be a flop.

The Hanover fair has come under acute pressure with the announcement last September by the IFA fair in Berlin that it would step up its frequency to annual from once every two years.

In the aftermath, one of Germany's four mobile phone providers, KPN's E-Plus brand, pulled out of CeBIT, while Sony sharply pruned its showing to a basic range of Vaio notebooks and projectors.

"Digital Living" is the solution devised by a German magazine publisher, CMP WEKA. It will have its own entrance, with admission set at a discounted 10 euros.

Specialist German media have been rather unkind about the show, describing it as a "mini IFA in a shoebox".

Motorola and Samsung also have no plan to take part in "Digital Living". "CeBIT is mainly there for IT and telecommunications," commented Hans Wienands, business director for consumer electronics at Samsung Electronics.

Sharp is one company that exhibits at both consumer electronics shows and CeBIT, and could contemplate showing up at "Digital Living".

A Sharp spokesman, Martin Beckmann, said the announcement of Digital Living came too late, but the Japan-based company would take a closer look in future.

"The product cycle is getting faster," Beckmann remarked, citing the reason why Sharp is willing to attend two big shows in Germany, IFA and CeBIT, just months apart.

First Published: Mar 09, 2006 11:21 IST