World's biggest mobile show woos Apple community

LONDON (Reuters) - The world’s biggest mobile fair will host its first event for Apple developers next year in a sign of Apple’s huge influence over the industry, even though the company itself has never participated in the show.

Mobile World Congress, which takes place each February in Barcelona, Spain, will add MacWorld Mobile to its new slate of events focused on developers, who make the small software programs or apps that have become key to phone makers’ fortunes.

The success of Apple’s iPhone and its iPad tablet computer has much to do with the enthusiasm of software developers to produce hundreds of thousands of apps that consumers can buy through Apple’s online store to customize their devices.

Apple itself never participates in wider industry events like MWC or the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas but prefers to stage its own shows, which attract huge amounts of media attention.

The GSM Association, which runs MWC, also said on Tuesday that BlackBerry maker Research in Motion and Hewlett-Packard’s Palm would be its partners for this year’s App Planet developer event, which is part of MWC.

The GSMA is also leading an initiative of mobile carriers to form their own app store to rival Apple’s.

Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Erica Billingham