Welcome to the jungle: Another trip to Mobile World Congress

Credit: Photo by kiwanja on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.

I'm heading to the Mobile World Congress next week in Barcelona, a hectic week full of international travel, keynotes, vendor meetings, press conferences, and lots and lots of walking.

But it's all with one goal in mind: To find the latest news and trends in mobile and how they'll affect users and IT alike.

This is my second time at MWC and I learned last year that in spite of the presence of many phone vendors, from Samsung to Nokia to HTC to Motorola, it lacked a mobile user focus. Instead it seemed to focus on the nuts and bolts of network delivery, security, and general back-end concerns.

Part of the problem with Mobile World Congress is that the two biggest names in mobile don't attend. That's right -- Apple and Google stay away from the world's premiere mobile conference. It's a bit baffling actually.

Last year there were plenty of Android phones to be found, including the shiny new HTC One, and of course Motorola Mobility was part of Google last year, but you didn't see the Google brand and there were no speakers from Google or a Google booth.

There wasn't  a sniff of Apple either, although I heard a lot of complaints about how Apple operates.

But in spite of this obvious hole, the conference has a lot to offer, and this year looks to be more interesting than my previous foray into Barcelona.

This year's keynotes feature Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday night and IBM CEO Virginia Rometty on Wednesday evening. Jan Koum, the CEO of WhatsApp (the man of the hour, given Facebook's $19 billion acquisition of the company) will also speaking along, Raspberry Pi CEO Lance Howarth, GE Ventures CEO Susan Siegel, and many, many others. I'll be attending several of these talks.

Last year Samsung announced its new Android security technology, Knox (still waiting for delivery), and we saw the first Firefox phones. This year, Nokia is expected to announced its long-awaited Android phone. Perhaps we'll see some next generation Firefox phones or an Ubuntu phone. It will be interesting to see if phablets are still the rage as they were last year.

I'll be speaking to AirWatch, which was recently bought by VMware, and Lenovo, which just bought Motorola Mobility from Google and is becoming an increasingly important mobile player. I'll also talk to SAP and IBM and try to get an understanding of where they fit in the worldwide mobile picture and what their strategy is to move their companies to take advantage of our increasingly mobile world.

As I walk the floor through the halls of the massive conference site, I will chat with vendors, try a variety of phones and tablets and try to get a sense of this year's trends. I will try to find those nuggets that matter most to users and IT managers alike. Because these days, whatever the user wants, the user gets -- and IT has to deal with it all.

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