Android's back, but Macworld Mobile is MIA - MWC 2012 preview issue

Android is in and iOS is out at Mobile World Congress 2012. For the second consecutive year, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) will stake out a significant stretch of territory inside La Fira de Barcelona's Hall 8 to spotlight the evolution of Android mobile operating system and some of the handpicked developer partners instrumental in its progress. (Check the countdown page here.) Also making a return appearance: Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who will keynote Day 2 of this year's event. At Mobile World Congress 2011, Schmidt touted the virtues of personalization services, geo-location and mobile advertising--there's no telling which subjects he'll tackle this time around, although Android fragmentation (or is it differentiation?) seems like a good bet.

But don't look for an encore performance by Macworld Mobile, the iOS developer showcase introduced last year by the GSMA and IDG World Expo. Michael O'Hara, the GSMA's chief marketing officer, said that Apple decided not to continue co-locating its Macworld conference at MWC as it did in 2011.

Even without Macworld Mobile in the mix, the GSMA expects about 12,000 developers to attend Mobile World Congress 2012. This year's signature App Planet event stretches across all four days of the conference and promises more than 200 app-specific exhibitors as well as the App Lounge networking hub. In addition, App Planet will host co-located developer conferences led by companies including Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Samsung Electronics and IBM.

Newsmakers at Mobile World Congress 2012 will include Mozilla. The open-source software development initiative plans to announce partners for its forthcoming Web-based mobile operating system, dubbed Boot to Gecko. First announced in mid-2011, Boot to Gecko promises to fill the gaps that prevent developers from building web apps comparable to native iOS and Android software. 

Speaking of cross-platform app stores, be on the lookout for news on the progress of the Wholesale Applications Community, which unveiled its WAC 2.0 specification at Mobile World Congress 2011 but has been largely silent in the months since. Details are unknown, but the WAC plans to announce a new mobile application billing effort at this year's conference--in addition, the industry organization will demonstrate new widget partnerships.

As for the mobile app trends expected to generate MWC 2012 buzz, the smart money is on Near Field Communications. O'Hara said attendees can expect NFC demonstrations in and around the Fira grounds, while the conference will also host seminars like Feb. 28's NFC: Advancing the Mobile Ecosystem and Feb. 29's Financial Services in a Mobile World, which features speakers including Isis CEO Michael Abbott, Visa President John Partridge and Citi Chief Administrative Officer Don Callahan. "We are bringing together people to talk about the important issues surrounding NFC," O'Hara said. Developers should listen to what those execs have to say--and vice versa.    

Android's back, but Macworld Mobile is MIA - MWC 2012 preview issue