Big News in Barcelona?

By Stephanie Blanchard, Digital Editor — February 04, 2014

While CES covers everything under the sun when it comes to consumer electronics, with smartphones and tablets, the Mobile World Congress is the place to be. Scheduled for February 24-27 in Barcelona, the event will feature 1,700 exhibitors and keynotes by by three dozen industry leaders including Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, and Virginia Romeety, CEO, IBM.

Right off the bat, Samsung will hold an Unpacked press event on Monday, Feb. 24. Is it for the Galaxy S5, the company’s flagship smartphone? This will be less than a year following the debut of the Galaxy S4, which was “unpacked” at Radio City Music Hall last March.

During its latest earnings call, Samsung noted it will continue to expand its portfolio by offering new products in different price ranges, and adjusted for specific regions. So it’s possible that the Unpacked Event will be like last year, where Samsung decided not to launch the Galaxy S4, choosing instead to debut the Galaxy Note 8 and other devices.

And since the company is solidly moving ahead in the enterprise with its KNOX security solution, and has made significant headway into wearable devices with its Galaxy Gear smartwatch, either category might be up for surprise announcements. However, most speculators are betting on the Galaxy S5 or at the very least, a successor to Galaxy Gear.

Or Samsung may take a totally unexpected and highly unadvised turn and reveal news about Tizen, its new operating system that no one is using and as a result, has no developers clamoring to create apps for.

And although Samsung has 30% market share for smartphones in developed and emerging markets, and tablet sales are way up, according to the latest earnings call, the company noted that 2014 will be weak, at least for the first half of the year.

How It Goes
Normally, the big product announcements are made at the beginning of the show, so look to Samsung to set the stage at MWC.

Nokia is also holding a press conference the same day, ostensibly to launch new hardware. Needless to say, the rumor mill is circulating leaks that new devices to debut include three Lumia smartphones which will run on Windows 8.1. Microsoft itself has not even launched an 8.1 smartphone…..that announcement will likely come later in the spring. However, the tech giant already had its own big news this week, naming Satya Nadella as CEO to replace Steve Ballmer.

With Sony also in the exhibitor mix, a new Xperia smartphone might make its debut, along with a rumored tablet. LG is also expected to launch a new Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) device. Meanwhile, following the sale of Motorola to Lenovo for a cool $3 billion, it’s hard to see Google showing off any new smartphones this year.

But that won’t stop the crowds; more than 60,000 are expected to attend this year’s MWC. While it’s not clear whether anything revolutionary will come from the event, MWC will at least feature App Planet, a pavilion for mobile app innovators and developers to network. In addition, mPowered Industries, a new program designed specifically for those in Health, Travel, Advertising and Broadcast, is expected to yield positive feedback from attendees.

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