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Tech Giants Descend on Barcelona for Mobile Parade

The world's biggest mobile phone makers and app developers will descend on Barcelona next week to show off their latest wares, with heavyweights like Samsung, Nokia and LG vying for attention in an increasingly crowded smartphone market.

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) has grown into one of the world's most pre-eminent mobile tech shows. It will showcase the latest trends and developments in the rapidly evolving sector is expected to attract more than 12,000 mobile app developers.

"MWC remains the preeminent mobile industry event where consumers and investors will turn for a comprehensive update as to industry developments and trends," David Garrity at GVA Research told CNBC.com.

Among the mobile phone manufacturers, LG and HTC could create the biggest buzz with make-or-break product releases. Both companies face a challenging year and are struggling to compete with Samsung and Apple. Nokia, which is also in troubled waters, will also be in the spotlight.

Nokia's flagship Lumia 920 smart-phone, but could we see an updated version at MWC?
Nokia
Nokia's flagship Lumia 920 smart-phone, but could we see an updated version at MWC?

The Finnish firm, no longer the powerhouse it once was in the 1990s when it dominated its home stock market during the tech boom, is making inroads in emerging markets with the affordable Asha model. It is also expected to release a new Lumia 922 smartphone. According to rumors on technology websites, it looks like it could be a slimmer version of the Lumia 920 model. Nokia could release a 7- inch tablet, reports the TechCrunch website. Many see a tablet as the missing piece of Nokia's mobile strategy. The company declined to confirm any rumors.

(Read More: Is Samsung Closing the Image Gap With Apple?)

"Nokia is likely to expand its Lumia smartphone range at MWC and this will keenly watched by the industry," Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics told CNBC.com.

LG's Optimus G Pro, set for its grand debut at the Mobile World Congress
LG
LG's Optimus G Pro, set for its grand debut at the Mobile World Congress

LG is set to face a challenging year after an earnings miss at the end of January when the firm said profits in its TV division had tumbled to around one tenth of year-earlier levels. The group has struggled to break into the high-end smartphone market, but managed to sell 15.4 million phones in the last quarter, lifting its mobile business profit to 55 billion won ($50.6 million), versus a 2.3 billion won loss a year ago.

LG could make the biggest waves at this year's event with its 4G LTE-equipped Optimus G Pro phone with 5.5-inch display. The device, launched in Korea on Monday will be off to Spain for its first European outing. LG confirmed to CNBC that more phones will be introduced in Barcelona to coincide with the launch.

(Read More: LG Misses Forecasts as TV Profits Tumble)

HTC One, its new flagship smart-phone released on February 19
HTC
HTC One, its new flagship smart-phone released on February 19

HTC could also pull out the stops, with the firm parading its new flagship smartphone, the HTC One, released in New York and London on Tuesday.

Nitin Bhas, senior analyst at Juniper Research, told CNBC Tuesday that new HTC device could represent a make-or-break moment for the Taiwanese company to regain market share from Apple and Samsung.

"In the past twelve months they've lost their way, he said. "It's going to be a great device, but the main question here is: is that enough? Is that enough to pull the consumers towards HTC from Samsung or Apple."

Embracing Big Screens

South Korean manufacturer Samsung's much-hyped S4 smartphone won't be making an appearance at this year's event, with the group deciding to launch the phone at its own event. Rumors persist that new tablets will take center stage instead, with a Galaxy Tab 3 and Galaxy Note 8.0 set to be revealed.

Galaxy's S3 smartphone has fought toe to toe with Apple's iPhone. In terms of sales Samsung have claimed top spot, according to research firm Gartner, with 22 percent of the market share for 2012, above both Nokia and Apple.

Sony's Xperia Z smart-phone has a 5 inch screen, but could we see a 10 inch screen at MWC?
Sony
Sony's Xperia Z smart-phone has a 5 inch screen, but could we see a 10 inch screen at MWC?

Sony may have other things on its mind, with the tech giant releasing the PlayStation 4 on Wednesday, which it hopes this could trigger a return to the glory days for the corporation. Stocks in Sony may was near $150 a share at the turn of the century but have since fallen 90 percent, with a current price of just above $14.

(Read More: The BlackBerry, Rebuilt, Lives to Fight Another Day)

The company has also been busy in the mobile space, recently unveiling the waterproof Xperia Z phone which is sure to attract attention in Spain. Industry blog Techkiddy says Sony is on the verge of giving a new Sony Xperia Tablet Z, rumored to have a 10 inch screen, an airing at the event. Sony could neither confirm nor deny the rumors to CNBC.

Blackberry's Z10 smart-phone, the most important launch in its history?
Blackberry
Blackberry's Z10 smart-phone, the most important launch in its history?

HP, Asus and Acer are also tipped to be on the cusp of releasing new tablets, while Chinese multinationals ZTE and Huawei are both widely rumored to be bringing new devices to show off in Spain. Intel will be displaying its new processor chip for smart phones at the event, and will be joined by Qualcomm and Nvidia.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated LG Group's mobile business profit for the last quarter as $50.9 billion. It should, in fact, be $50.6 million.

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