I'm in Berlin at IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin), which bills itself as Europe's largest consumer trade show. The event, which officially gets underway on Friday, is expected to draw more than 220,000 attendees, mostly from here in Germany. Exhibitors, however, are coming from all over the world -- 897 of the 1,245 exhibitors are from outside Germany. Unlike most tech shows, IFA is open to consumers as well as industry insiders.
The German government takes this show very seriously. Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to make an appearance at the opening reception.
IFA officials expert about 2.7 billion Euros ($3.9 billion) worth of goods to be ordered here at the show.
Like the giant Consumer Electronics Show that takes place in Las Vegas each January, visitors to IFA can expect to see plenty of big-screen TVs, mobile phones, digital cameras, BluRay players and other typical electronic gear. But – for the first time – IFA will also show "white goods" which is the industry term for home appliances like refrigerators, washers and dryers and coffee makers. This is in contrast to "brown goods" – which is used here to describe other consumer electronic and "gray goods" to describe personal computers.
The show hasn't opened yet so I don't know exactly what appliances will be on display but, according to IFA spokesperson Reinhard Zinkann, they will include "smart devices" such as refrigerators with flat LCD screens and coffee makers with chips that help ensure better tasting java. Zinkann also expects to see greener white goods that save electricity or – where applicable – water.
A few years ago LG introduced web-enabled washing machines that could be controlled via the Internet and there has been plenty of speculation about refrigerators that send email or text messages to warn you when your food is about to spoil but Zinhann doesn't expect to see those in the foreseeable future.
The show starts on Friday and runs through Sept. 3.