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Samsung opts out of IFA, plans its own September event instead

The South Korean electronics giant is also expected to introduce its newest smartphones in August.


Samsung, which has long had a big presence at IFA, won't attend the Berlin conference this year.

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IFA will kick off in September with one huge exhibitor missing: Samsung. The South Korean electronics giant said Tuesday it won't attend the Berlin conference, which is taking place in the midst of a pandemic. Instead, Samsung said it will "share our latest news and announcements at our own digital event in early September." 

Samsung also is expected to hold a digital Unpacked event in early August to show off its latest smartphones, including its new Note and Galaxy Fold. It typically introduces its mobile devices at Unpacked and then uses IFA to talk about its home appliances and give more specifics about its new products. Last year, it shared information about its Galaxy Fold and launched its first lower priced 5G smartphone.

"While Samsung will not be participating in IFA 2020, we look forward to our continued partnership with IFA in the future," a spokeswoman said. 

The novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 10.4 million people around the globe, has caused companies to rethink their product launches. GSMA canceled Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest mobile show, a week before journalists arrived in Barcelona, Spain in late February. Instead of phone launches over the past six weeks , Apple, Huawei and OnePlus have all held digital events or introduced devices via press release. Apple last week held a virtual developers conference instead of gathering thousands of app makers in California, and companies like Google and Facebook have opted to scrap their developer conferences this year. 

In late April, the organizers behind IFA said the electronics show wouldn't proceed as it normally does. A month later, they said IFA would take place as an in-person event, but it wouldn't be open to the public like it normally is. IFA also plans to allow a maximum of 1,000 people to attend each section of the event each day. Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon signed on as one of the first of this year's keynote speakers.

But things have changed since May. The European Union plans to reopen borders but will block American travelers, at least for now. The virus is surging in parts of the US and had a flareup in Beijing. Samsung may be the first huge company to pass on IFA this year, but it's unlikely to be the last. 

While IFA typically doesn't have as much big news as CES (held each January in Las Vegas) or MWC, it's a major show for electronics makers, especially those selling home appliances and computers. There's also typically some mobile news at IFA. Last year saw the debut of the first OLED TV with Amazon Alexa built-in, among various other news. 

Samsung used to play a major role at IFA, introducing its newest Note phones, Galaxy watches and other products at the show. In recent years, it's opted to host its own Unpacked event in the US to introduce its new mobile devices, but it still takes over an entire hall at the Messe in Berlin and hosts various press events throughout the week. 

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Like all tech conferences, IFA is also a key place for company executives to meet and strike deals with each other. That includes partnerships for retailers or carriers to offer devices and companies to work together on technology. The in-person meetings are key for smaller companies that don't have sales teams or the money to travel across the globe to strike deals. 

IFA also opens its convention halls to the public. Last year's show had nearly 2,000 exhibitors, and there are usually around 200,000 attendees.

The organizers of CES, the huge electronics show held each year in Las Vegas, still plan to proceed with the January 2021 conference.

Axios earlier reported the news.