Samsung will not exhibit at IFA 2020, opts for digital event instead

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A major company just announced that it will not be taking part in an in-person trade show, instead opting to go online only. After early reports from South Korean press, Samsung has just confirmed with TechCrunch that it will not be taking part in Europe’s largest consumer tech trade show. 

“We have taken the exciting decision to share our latest news and announcements at our own digital event in early September,” the company tells TechCrunch. “While Samsung will not be participating in IFA 2020, we look forward to our continued partnership with IFA in the future.”

The decision comes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge. Earlier today, the European Union announced that it will be opening travel from 15 countries starting tomorrow, while continuing to ban travelers from the United States, Brazil and Russia, where COVID-19 remains an ongoing concern.

I’ve been in touch with individuals involved with the show recently, and it seems clear that everyone is monitoring the situation closely. I’ve also sent a followup in the wake of this Samsung news. Likely it won’t be enough to sink the show by itself, but we’ve seen the domino effect played out several times this years — most notably in the case of fellow European trade show Mobile World Congress, which seemed to die a bit of a slow death over the course of a month of so.

IFA’s organizers announced the planned return of the show back in mid-May, with a number of precautions. “While the organizers hope that the overall public health situation will improve between now and September,” the org wrote at the time, “they have decided to err on the side of caution and meet the strictest safety standards possible.” Amid the precautions are limiting attendance to 1,000 people a day, along with a strict invite-only press release.

The way things are going on the COVID-19 front, however, it seems likely that many attendees will simply opt to monitor the show from afar.