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Mobile World Congress 2012: Talk That Talk

Updated:2012/2/27 10:36

Tapas and tablets go hand in hand at the Mobile World Congress, the annual gathering of wireless executives, device makers and software peddlers who descend on this beautiful city to show off the latest and hottest developments in mobile technology.

This year’s event, which runs Sunday through Thursday, will feature the newest handsets from most of the major manufacturers and speeches by many industry leaders, including Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, and executives of AT&T, eBay, Visa, HTC, China Mobile and Nokia, among others. An addition to the lineup this year is Bret Taylor, chief technology officer of Facebook.

We’ll be on the ground, reporting and tweeting live from the fairgrounds throughout the week. And we’ll keep an eye on several big themes, including:

Nokia and Microsoft, One Year Later: It has been a year since the announcement that these giants were teaming up to take on Apple and Android. We’ll get a glimpse of the first fruits of this union and provide an update on the duo’s plans for the months ahead.

Souped-Up Smartphones: As phone makers struggle to differentiate their glossy touchscreen devices from the scores of other glossy touchscreen devices on sale, they’re tricking out the innards in an effort to stand out from the masses. As a result, the arms race for the speediest, sleekest smartphone is under way, with several handset makers showing off devices with high-definition displays, powerful quad-core processors and the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich.

Android vs Apple: Although Apple, as usual, will not appear on the trade show floor, the shadow of the company will loom heavily over the event, as many expect the next-generation iPad to be announced in weeks. Android, conversely, will have its mark on nearly every device on the floor, including home electronics and household devices.

(Mobile) Bills, Bills, Bills: Near-field communication and mobile commerce were the big promise of 2011 and so far, little has been rolled out on either front. We’ll be looking for an update from the phone makers on why the great promises of the mobile wallet have yet to materialize.

System Overload: More data than ever is flowing over mobile networks and carriers are struggling to keep up with the crush of customers who are streaming video and using their mobile phones as supplements, if not substitutes, for personal computers. How they manage to keep the systems from buckling under the surge of demand and make more money from it will certainly be a hot topic this year.

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