IFA 2021 has been cancelled due to uncertainties around the pandemic

There will be no IFA 2021. Those who were hoping to attend the live event in Berlin will need to wait one more year.

This is Europe’s largest tech gathering. You could say it’s a global showcase for technology innovation and an important meeting place for brands, manufacturers, retailers and media.

It’s also a big deal for wearable manufacturers as the timing for product announcement is great – end August/early September, a couple of months ahead of the all-important holiday shopping period. Garmin, Fitbit and others have typically used IFA as a launch platform for new gadgets. Apple didn’t, instead preferring to hold its own conference later in September.

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Last year was the 58th IFA. That one was different from previous ones in that it combined a virtual element with live gatherings. But it was a rather muted affair – and it was mostly online rather than person-to-person. Typically, IFA draws a crowd of nearly a quarter of a million visitors.

That simply wasn’t possible last year and it won’t be happening this year, either. The difference is that we won’t be getting a virtual element in 2021. In fact, the whole thing has been cancelled.

The organizer sent an email earlier today saying it simple wasn’t possible to plan for IFA 2021. This is because of the difficulty in predicting how the pandemic will play out over the summer.

Here’s the email.

“We are afraid we are not bringing good news today: We are all extremely disappointed, but this summer will be like no other, because IFA cannot take place in 2021.

We have tried to make the impossible possible, but there are just too many uncertainties right now. It has become impossible to predict how the pandemic will affect the world come this September. There simply are so many ‘known unknowns’ – from the speed of vaccination programs to the emergence of new variants of the virus – that nobody can plan ahead reliably and securely.

Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your trust, in IFA and our team.

And yet, we can look forward to 2022, when – after an extremely rare break – IFA Berlin is set to return, in full strength, with confidence and full IFA power. Our preparations for IFA 2022 are starting today.”

So here’s to 2022 and the hope that things will get back to normal long before then. In the meantime we can look forward to MWC Barcelona 2021. That one is going ahead but is cutting visitor numbers by a half – from the usual 100,000 to 50,000. There will also be strict health safety measures in place.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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