The GSMA's yearly

Mobile World Congress

is to cell phones what last month's

Consumer Electronics Show

was to the entire electronics industry ... only bigger!

Every February, the GSM Association holds its big trade show. This year, again, the Mobile World Congress is being held in Barcelona, Spain. More than 55,000 attendees from some 150 countries are expected.

The organization touts the confab as a great place for people in the cellular industry to conduct business. I can tell you, from experience, that it's also the place to see most of the new cell phones we'll be seeing (and the industry hopes buying) later in the year.

GSM is the cell-phone standard nearly everywhere on the planet. Here in the U.S.,


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use the GSM standard on their networks.


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don't really count in this case.

We're hearing about a slew of new handset designs from a number of companies. First, even before the show begins, we'll be getting a hands-on demonstration of


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nuvifone. Promised more than one year ago, the half cell-phone/half GPS-location device, which is being made for Garmin by


, will finally come out from behind the counter and will officially be announced/touted at the show.

There will also be a lot of new


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/Android-based phones being announced in Barcelona. We're hearing lots about a number of new and exciting designs from a number of manufacturers based in China and Europe.


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is not listed as an exhibitor at this show.


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has been hinting that it will have some new smartphones to talk about. The rumor mill has it that at least one of those new handsets will run on the Windows Mobile operating system. And expect


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to have something to say about future versions of its mobile OS. Nokia should have a number of new announcements at the show, too.

And there will be a large number of companies touting their latest mobile entertainment solutions. That means video -- live TV, TV on demand, movies, special programming just for handsets and everything from producing the content to getting it to the end user. As these devices continue to morph into something more than just plain cell phones, mobile-entertainment content will become a very large part of this business.

Finally, no large industry show is complete without some "hip" entertainers talking and/or performing for the attendees. This year's show won't disappoint. They're touting the Black Eyed Peas' front man, writer and producer as being one of the headline speakers at Mobile Backstage, a special one-day Mobile Entertainment focused conference and also two-time Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey, who will be giving one of the keynote speeches and will also host the MOFILM Mobile Short Film Festival at the show.

I can't wait.

Gary Krakow is's senior technology correspondent.