The annual Mobile World Congress kicks off today in Barcelona, where attendees will be looking out for the latest products and trends likely to make a big impact in the mobile market in 2011.

Adam Leach, practice leader for industry analysts Ovum, predicts that low-price smartphones and high-end tablets will be hot topics for the week.

“So what can we expect? Device vendors will focus on two main areas: first, low-cost smartphones, with device vendors driving smartphone platforms further down their device portfolios,” said Leach.

“Second, at the higher end of the portfolio we expect to see further developments in the tablet space, following the flood of Android-based tablet announcements at CES at the start of the year,” he said.

“We will also see a continued focus on developers, with smartphone platform vendors battling with each other to win the hearts and minds of the growing mobile developer community.”

Smartphone and tablet releases are expected from the likes of Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Acer throughout the event.

With spectrum auctions and the rollout of 4G Networks continuing to grow worldwide, it is also likely this topic will dominate many discussions.

“With continued growth in data demand, operators and vendors in Barcelona will continue their focus on coping with the ensuing traffic growth in an era of intense profit pressures,” said Leach.

“There will no doubt be announcements relating to LTE [4G] technical developments or orders. However, we also expect traffic management, policy control and content optimisation solutions to be in the spotlight.

“As usual, the revelation of operators’ LTE plans will be of interest, but we also expect the debate to increase its emphasis on more commercial strategies for optimising data’s potential, such as through innovative tariff plans and business models.”

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