By Stephen Schenck | September 3, 2013 7:07 AM
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt picked up on the fact by now that we’re nearly ready to get underway with IFA 2013 in Berlin. The sort of announcements we’ve been hearing so far this week are only the prelude – manufacturers hoping to get a jump start on everyone else. In the days to follow we’ll be getting even more of these pre-IFA announcements, including some eagerly anticipated news from Sony and Samsung on Wednesday. In fact, IFA proper doesn’t actually start until this Friday, running through a week from tomorrow.
Every year, we prepare for the same sort of thing in late August and early September; it’s not always the same companies making the same nature of announcements year-in and year-out, but we do pick up on patterns now and then – like how the Galaxy Note II launched this time last year, and Samsung looks to be doing the same this year with the Note III. Of course, even if a product isn’t ready in time for the annual IFA, we always have CES just another few months out, and MWC nearly right after that.
Those are only the three big ones; in the gaps between them, there are plenty of other trade shows and exhibitions giving manufacturers the chance to show what they’ve been working on – events like the CTIA convention we covered this past May.
For a smartphone fan, this is all great stuff to follow. Sure, manufacturers will often save their really big launches for their own events, but those can occur with no more than a couple weeks’ warning. If you want to see plenty of launches, coming out on a reliable schedule, these shows are hard to beat.
What I’m curious about is how events like these fit in with how you make your smartphone (and tablet) purchasing decisions. Everyone’s experience will be a little different, but I’m going to try to hit upon what seem like some of the more likely ways shoppers like you might use expos like IFA in order to inform your next phone purchase.
Hold off on purchases – want to see all that’s new
It’s probably the most knee-jerk reaction to learning that a bunch of smartphone gear is just about to go public: if you were thinking about a purchase, hold off until after those announcements to make sure you don’t find yourself stuck with an outdated model. No one likes to drop several hundred dollars on a new phone, nor get locked into a multi-year contract, only to be wishing they bought something else just weeks after purchase.
Most of the time, getting stuck in this mindset can be a losing proposition – after all, there’s always going to be something new right around the corner – but expos and trade shows offer a bit of compromise. That’s mainly because of the density of information we end up getting out of them, with so many new products from so many manufacturers. You’re going to have to choose sometime what you want to buy, so your best bet may be waiting until after one of these events – which you know are going to occur on-schedule and deliver plenty of info all at once.
Of course, with MWC and CES happening so close to each other, we probably want to count those together for our poll – if the allure is getting so much new phone info in one general time block, two events sure are better than one.
Inspiration only – no rush to buy
On the flip side to that, you’ve got the smartphone fan who is no rush to upgrade. He appreciates seeing all the news that comes out of these events, but isn’t about to jump on any one phone just because it’s the “hot new thing.” Instead, he soaks it all in, including both these big shows and independent events, and waits for the “right” phone to arrive, not the “phone that’s right now.”
No rush to buy – unless I’m cleared to upgrade
There’s an alternative to that wait-and-see approach that’s just a little less desirable, the shopper who watches all these expos as a spectator, not really thinking too strongly about purchasing decisions – unless that news comes right around the opportunity to upgrade.
Being locked-in to long contracts, stuck with a phone that seems more and more out-of-date with each passing month, can make you desperate to upgrade to a newer model the very first chance you get. You may be looking forward to that Note III launch, but when the opportunity to upgrade comes in in June, not late August or September, you may not be able to resist the allure of a Note II.
Expo, shmexpo – I use iOS
Of course, if the sort of phones that are really your bag aren’t necessarily the ones that companies show off at these events – and I’m looking at you Apple, the kid who doesn’t play nicely with others – then there’s going to be little about them to really catch your interest. Well, maybe you like checking out the competition – or even being so open-minded as to consider jumping platforms every now and then – but when it comes down to it, events like the IFA have little direct bearing on your phone buying decisions. Then again, that rumored Apple event next week technically overlaps with IFA 2013 – but let’s try and avoid confusing the issue.
Sorry for painting with such broad strokes here, and possibly failing to describe the experience that best depicts your relationship with trade shows. If that’s the case, hit up the poll below with what maybe most closely matches your feelings, and let us know in the comments about your personal attitudes to these events, and the news that comes out of them.