IFA Day Two
Today was an odd day at IFA. (Today meaning that it's now 11 PM as I write this, though only 3 PM on the West Coast.)
It began when I decided to join a bunch of others at the "off-campus" presentation by Huawei (pronounced Whah-way"), a fairly well-regarded Chinese company that's the leading manufacturer of mobile phone phones. Usually I don't go off the Messe Fairgrounds because it takes up so much time, but though there were a few press conferences I thought about going to, I was okay missing them. Also, to be honest, I was told that Huawei generally gives away very good "gifts," usually one of their new mobile phones. And since I'm in the market for one, I figured why not?
We were supposed to leave at 9:30 -- but they changed their plans, forgot to tell me, and left without me. Which I was oh-so-pleased about. Fortunately, I had mentioned something at breakfast about the event, and three other people wanted to go, so -- although they missed out going with the others -- we all got a cab and went together. So, it wasn't a horrible situation.
It was a long cab ride, about 20-30 minutes, to the Velodrome, where the event was being held. This was through the former East Berlin, and much of it is sort of dismal. I quipped that it was the original "Fifty shades of gray." We were sort of in the middle of nowhere when the cabbie dropped us off -- and there were zero signs to the event. So, we had to climb up a lot of steps and then down a lot, and then walked all around the Velodrome and couldn't anything. Nor could other IFA-press people who were trying to find their way in, or where to go. We finally took an elevator down a level, and -- though there still were no signs -- found the way in.
The event already started, but the highlight -- without question (because I was later told that Twitter went crazy over it, from all the tech reporters tweeting about it) -- came when they brought out a very popular "fashion influencer" named Xenia Tchoumi to help promote their new Nova Plus phone. The phone looks quite nice, by the way, and will retail for about $450. Ms. Tchoumi, who is a lovely young woman, which most people with me presumed was a large part of the reason she was so popular, since not much of what she said was anything more than incredibly surface, then preceded to spend perhaps the next 10 minutes to explain all about how great this new phone is for taking selfies. I swear to you. I am not remotely exaggerating. My personal favorite comment was when she said, "Like everyone, the first thing I do in the morning was take a selfie of my breakfast." (Really That's not a joke. I wanted to yell to the stage, "I usually don't have breakfast." And when I do, it's not even on the list of Things to do." About five minutes in, as she kept explaining all the great benefits of what you can do at a fashion show with taking selfies and getting your make-up right -- keep in mind that the crowd of maybe 500 was large male, and in rock band t-shirts and sloppy pants -- and how taking a selfie of a shoe might be the most important thing in fashion today, or just people walking around at a fashion and here are pictures of some selfies she's taken at fashion shows, "One-handed selfies," she called them, taken with the Nova Plus that was so easy to do with one hand with a well-placed button on the back, a colleague, tech journalist Dan Tynan, sent a text message that was very funny in its pointed, subtle phrasing albeit a tad crude, explaining that in his day, doing a one-handed selfie went by a different name.
As I said, I was told that Twitter lit up because of all this.
To be fair to Miss Xenia, I believe she said she was live-streaming her presentation to her followers (which are a great many, I believe they said a million), so I assume she was largely addressing them, not the fashion-challenged male crowd present. But still, this was a press event, and even her followers weren't going to use the Nova Plus to take selfies of themselves at fashion shows. It was not the greatest planning by Huawei as a way to promote their solid phone...
As for that phone, they did indeed give me one as a gift. But even here, it was a slap-your-head silly moment. Because the phone uses GSM technology, and I'm with Verizon which is only compatible with CDMA -- so the phone is completely useless to me! After all that. (I probably can sell it, though it looked pretty good, and I'd have like to have used it.)
And then, being out in the middle of nowhere, we had to get back to the Messe Fairgrounds. We were going to take the U-Bahn (their subway), but decided a cab would be quicker. And fortunately cabbies knew there was a bit event and did show up. Fortunately, too, we found out later that they were doing construction on this particular line, and the trains stopped part of the way there, and people either hand to transfer to a bus and then take it to a later part of the line...or take a cab.
By the time we got back to IFA at the Messe Fairgrounds, it was 1 PM, and we'd missed the earlier press conferences, but did have time to walk across the huge grounds and catch the last half of the Sony press conference. But it was so full, we could only cram our way into a corner. I stayed about four minutes, and walked back to the press room.
And that was the start of the day...
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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