Mobile World Congress convenes in Barcelona

This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) is taking place in Barcelona, Feb. 14-17. More than 50,000 attendees from all over the world are expected to gather for keynote speeches, networking and product launches; the number of exhibitors is pegged at 1300. This year’s MWC will also debut the collocation of Apple’s Macworld Mobile event.

This year’s keynote speakers include Eric Schmidt, chairman/CEO of Google; Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer; Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square; Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter; and Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo! Chief executives from many worldwide carriers are also expected to speak.

The MWC will also feature the return of its App Planet program, which debuted last year. The program, which drew approximately 6000 developers last year and is expected to draw more than 10,000 this year, features application-specific exhibitors and programs for mobile developers, with events from companies including RIM, Nokia, Samsung and Microsoft.

One of the major themes anticipated to emerge from the event is tablet differentiation. Because tablets emerged as a leading category of mobile devices at CES 2011, the MWC is expected to be the venue where manufacturers attempt to differentiate their products. Analysts have also predicted that Android, especially Version 3.0, also known as Honeycomb, will be the dominant platform at the show. Attendees may also see new products with regard to 3-D displays and cloud services.

Among the companies anticipated to unveil new devices are Samsung and HTC, the latter possibly announcing Windows Phone 7-based phones. More news with regard to LTE networks and devices are likely, and Nokia’s recent announcement of a partnership with Microsoft will also play out in greater detail at the show.