Ina Fried and Bonnie Cha

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What to Expect When You Are Expecting a Lot of News Out of Barcelona

Mobile World Congress doesn’t really get going until the weekend.


But here at AllThingsD we want you to have a pretty good idea what to expect even before things kick off in Barcelona. We’ve been noodling around to find out what all the big companies have planned for next week. And, as we noted yesterday, plenty of companies aren’t waiting to spill the beans.

So here’s a company-by-company look at what to expect. And this is just the start of our Mobile World Congress reporting. Ina Fried and Bonnie Cha will be in Espana to put things into context and dig around for more dirt.


As usual, the Cupertino-based company will be the talk of the town and yet nowhere to be found.


AT&T is using the stage in Barcelona to talk about its progress in moving mobile beyond the phone. On the business side, Ma Bell now has a half-billion-dollar business helping companies add mobile products such as rugged devices and embedded cellular technology. At the show, AT&T is working with OnAsset to embed cellular modules for high-value package tracking.


Google never made any huge announcements at Mobile World Congress, but its circus-like booth was always a big attraction. Alas, there will be no free smoothies, trips down the slide or pin-trading this year.


The Taiwanese phone maker made its big news earlier this week in New York, but is expected to have its usual presence at the show, though it won’t have a huge news conference.


The haptics company is showing off new ways of adding touch feedback into mobile devices, including the ability for phone makers to more deeply integrate feel into their user interface.


Intel is showing off its dual-core processor, and is also expected to announce some new phone designs and tout its work in emerging markets.


Similar to last year, LG is making a slew of announcements just ahead of the show. Over the past couple of weeks, the Korean manufacturer has debuted the LG Optimus G Pro, Optimus L Series II, Optimus F5 and Optimus F7. Still, the company might have a thing or two left up its sleeve. A press conference is scheduled for Monday morning.


Mobile World Congress has never been a big show for Motorola, and that’s not going to change this year. So, for those of you who were hoping for your first sighting of the Google-Motorola X Phone, sorry to disappoint.


With its flagship Lumia 920 still in the process of being introduced around the world, expect Nokia to concentrate its efforts around expanding its Windows Phone lineup to better combat the threat of low-end Android. That also means beefing up the company’s Asha mobile phone business, which has been seeking to evolve from feature phone to an entry-level smartphone. The Finnish phone maker has a press conference set for Monday morning.


The chipmaker plans to show off the Phoenix, a reference-design phone built around the Tegra 4i, the company’s first processor with LTE capabilities built in.


France Telecom’s wireless unit is debuting several new devices under its own brand, including the Lumo — the first Orange-branded LTE phone — and the San Remo, a large-screen 4.7-inch smartphone. A third phone, the Orange Nivo, targets younger buyers and first-time smartphone buyers.


The Snapdragon 800 chip was announced at CES in January, but Qualcomm will use Mobile World Congress to show off some previously undisclosed abilities of the chip, including always-on voice control and even faster device charging.


Samsung used to put on over-the-top press conferences at Mobile World Congress (think aerial acrobats and dance troupes). But the company started to scale back last year, preferring instead to launch flagship products like the Samsung Galaxy S III on its own. The case will be the same for the much-anticipated Galaxy S IV, but it’s rumored that Samsung will unveil the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet in Barcelona.


Sony introduced its latest flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z, at CES in January, so the chances of seeing another high-end handset are slim. That said, the company does have an event planned for Monday morning. It’s quite possible that Sony may use that time to reveal additional markets and availability for the Xperia Tablet Z, which has currently only been announced for Japan.


Visa is announcing a new “Visa Ready” program on Friday, designed to turn potential technology rivals into partners. The program will see Visa certify payment hardware and NFC devices to work with Visa’s infrastructure. Expect more specific partner announcements in Barcelona.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik