With a first look at the IFA, here's how to plug into Philips, Haier, Grundig, ZTE, & Microsoft

    The other week we went to the IFA Global Press Conference to figure out what the September conference in Berlin is all about, but also to see some company updates in the consumer electronic space. At ArcticStartup, consumer electronics usually means tablets and wearables instead of washing machines and refrigerators, but as the IoT space brings startups and home appliance manufacturers together, we’ve gotten a new respect for how massive the industry is outside our bubble.

    The IFA has quite the legacy, being opened by Albert Einstein in 1930 and has shown off everything from early prototypes of the TV, demonstrating the first practical tape recorder in 1935. From there it’s grown to one of the largest consumer electronics trade fairs. From a startup perspective, this seems like the right fair to find how to plug in with giant corporations in the consumer electronic space (after our own conference, the Arctic15, of course).

    There’s two ways to look at Philips now- the company announced it’s splitting into Healthtech and Smart Lighting. In Healthcare they’re “building synergies” with Philips Health Systems and Philips Personal Health – announcing a partnership with Allianz, the German financial services company, with their fancy new back pain device that’ll help you keep good posture. On the consumer side they highlighted an air flossing device, which promises similar results to flossing.

    For the lightbulb stuff it’s tougher to say how startups can plug in. Do some cool things with their smart lightbulbs and they’ll probably be excited.

    Key phrases to drop on them: They intentionally don’t talk about IoT or “Wearables” for the sake of it. Lose the buzzwords talk smart use of data and products for healthcare, maybe there’s bonus points if you have a solution sold through employers, but obviously they’ve still got a good consumer focus.

    This is an appliances brand that I’m not too familiar with in the Nordics, but I do my laundry in the apartment’s basement. Know that they’ve got a 10% market share in appliances and that they’re all about meaningful innovations in the appliance business, like a fancy new solid-state wine cooler that doesn’t run on a compressor, the first of its kind.

    They’ve also got themselves a smart watch for children and the elderly that lets you find your loved ones on GPS. These guys cast a wide net, so if you’re anywhere in consumer electronics or hardware, keep them on your radar.

    Keywords in your meeting: “Unique approach to consumer relationship” as well as intuitive UI.

    70 years of innovation in home electronics, radios, TVs, and stereo systems have built a brand for them in Germany. Given their solid market share in the German-spoken countries, they see potential to expand that internationally.

    The thing they put a lot of weight on in the press conference is a pretty sick kitchen interface concept that uses light projected onto your stove surface and around your cooking area, projected from your stove hood. Unique UX startups should have them on their radar, because it does look pretty futuristic and practical. Sell them some sort of app concept for kitchens?

    Grundig Vux Final EN from 3DPros on Vimeo.

    Talking points: how you can revolutionize the way consumers interact with their kitchen, global dominance.

    This Chinese handset maker is moving hard from white labeled products for U.S. and European carriers and are looking to build a brand for themselves. They’re talking lots of patents for their latest phones, which do Her-like voice recognition on the phone without passing that information to the cloud (we’ve come full circle where the cloud is no longer cool).

    Also they’ve got a pretty rockin’ portable projector which has enough battery to play a full movie and can show your slides without setting up your computer – you might have heard of it if you caught the CES buzz.

    This company is hungry to build a name for itself and is casting a wide net, so plenty of companies can probably look to sell innovations or integrate into their phones and platforms.

    Do mention: You’ve got innovative core technology for consumers, and your solution will definitely help them stand out as a brand. High five them on their 3 NBA team sponsorships.

    A good contact: Waiman Lam, Senior Director of Technology and Partnership, ZTE Mobile Devices

    Microsoft is beefing up their open innovation opportunities, and is of course an acquirer of companies. Microsoft is wide enough that it’s tough to say who will fit in where, but know they’re serious about building bridges. “If it touches a consumer, we want to be there. If it touches a business, we want to be there.”

    Keywords: Microsoft is now cool. They’re “transforming every person and organization to achieve more”.

    More info about IFA Berlin can be found on their website.