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MWC 2014: IBM president Virginia Rometty hints at robot wars with Google

It's the penultimate night of Mobile World Congress 2014 (opens in new tab), and things in Barcelona are just about beginning to wind down. Not really. The gigantic halls of the Fira Gran Via conference centre are just as noisy, congested and mind-boggling as they've been all week.

True, most of the major product launches have already taken place - check out our Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2 spec comparison (opens in new tab) - and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's headline-grabbing presentation (opens in new tab) is well behind us. However, in around an hour, one of the original superpowers of the technology world will take the main stage and seize the attention of everyone in our industry.

Virginia Rometty, the chairman, president and CEO of IBM is due to deliver her own keynote at 6pm CET - which is 5pm for our UK readership. Rometty joined Big Blue way back in 1981, and has held a fair few high-level positions at the firm over the years, including senior vice president and group executive of sales, marketing and strategy.

Though only two months old, 2014 has already been a funny old year for IBM. The company has been involved in some huge money transactions, and has received its fair share of great and not-so-great news. There'll be no shortage of topics - and concerns - for Rometty to address.

From the mighty cloud to supercomputer Watson and servers to the National Security Agency (opens in new tab), we're bringing you live, blow-by-blow coverage of everything that goes down (hopefully not the Wi-Fi). We're about to run down and join the queue, which is bound to be a little bit lengthy.

Stick with us, enjoy the show and make sure you get involved with proceedings via the comments section below, as well as Twitter (opens in new tab) and Facebook (opens in new tab).

  • 26 February
  • 18:16

    We'll leave you in peace with the thought of Google and IBM waging a massive robot war across the universe.

    Porthole Ad

  • 18:15

    Anyway, we hope that was as informative as you hoped it might be.

  • 17:59

    By the way, here's a couple of things about the supercomputer that you might not have known before now:

    In 2011, Watson beat a bunch of Harvard and MIT business students on the gameshow Jeopardy! (opens in new tab)

    Last year, it (or should I say "he"?) learnt how to swear (opens in new tab).

  • 17:55

    Also, what will you do with Watson?

  • 17:54

    Any thoughts on the data, cloud and engagement trends that featured so heavily?

  • 17:53

    It was a lot of information to take in at once, but Rometty seriously knows her stuff.

  • 17:52

    Well, we hope you enjoyed that as much as we did.

  • 17:51

    We've definitely been treated very well by GSMA this week.

  • 17:50

    By the way, Virginia is the first IBM chief to have ever appeared on the main stage at MWC.

  • 17:50

    Booooo! That's that. It went by way too quickly.

  • 17:49

    Let's just hope that humans don't end up losing out.

  • 17:49

    Looks like IBM is going to go head-to-head with Google in the artificial intelligence sphere (opens in new tab).

  • 17:47

    David's excited about machines that are able to learn. Is anybody else a little bit afraid?

  • 17:45

    Hardware revenue is now only 10-15 per cent of IBM's overall earnings, but Rometty says it still will play an important part.

  • 17:43

    Watson has also headed to Africa, and is working on cervical cancer and education.

  • 17:42

    IBM has infiltrated 24 countries across Africa.

  • 17:40

    There's a rapid pace of change in the social and mobile arenas in China. But this still can't be compared with that of the US and Europe.

  • 17:38

    Security: Either you wait for the burglar alarm to go off or you constantly assume that there are bad things everywhere that you need to find and get rid of. Scenario two relies heavily upon analytics.

  • 17:36

    IBM has completed a massive number of deals over the past few weeks - this shows the sheer speed at which business needs to move at.

  • 17:34

    David asks if Virginia is trying to make IBM a role model for other companies.

  • 17:33

    The data, cloud and engagement trends Virginia mentioned earlier are not separate entities.

  • 17:32

    The speed of change in business today is faster than it has ever been.

  • 17:30

  • 17:29

    David's back on stage.

  • 17:29

    Watson seems to be becoming a platform.

  • 17:27

  • 17:26

    There's a mobile Watson developer challenge coming.

  • 17:23

    Wow, Watson is undergoing training from cancer specialists and medical professionals.

  • 17:21

    Talking about the rise of cognitive computing. Is Watson backstage?

  • 17:20

    Ooooh, Virginia says she's going to make a personal offer to us.

  • 17:20

    "Analytics is the the only way to ever meet expectations."

  • 17:19

    Virginia's three predictions:

    "Mobile will be about secure transactions."

    "Mobile and cloud together will redefine software development as we know it."

    "Mobile for all of us that run companies will put a premium on the words 'culture' and 'analytics'."

  • 17:15

    It's not age-driven but knowledge-driven.

  • 17:14

    A new culture is emerging.

  • 17:13

    In 2017, half of all companies will be hybrid.

  • 17:12

    Ginni's all about hybrid clouds. James Laird will be happy.

  • 17:11

    By 2016, a quarter of all apps will be built in the cloud.

  • 17:11

    Moving onto the cloud now.

  • 17:10

    The three levels of data analytics: Descriptive, predictive and prescriptive.

  • 17:08

    !Data will be the basis for competitive advantage to distinguish winners and losers."

  • 17:07

    "Data is now a natural resource."

  • 17:06

    Data, cloud and engagement are on the menu.

  • 17:06

  • 17:05

    "This is an exciting time and a very disruptive time for everyone in our industry"

  • 17:05

    She's here!

  • 17:03

    Today, we'll be talking about the challenges faced by leader of ginormous companies.

  • 17:02

    ...or, as many people call her, Ginni.

  • 17:01

    He's introducing Virginia...

  • 17:01

    David Kirkpatrick is back!

  • 17:00

    All clued up? Good. Let's get ready to go.

  • 17:00

    17 February: Researchers at IBM Labs claim to have achieved a world record data transfer speed of up to 400Gbps (opens in new tab) using a new analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) chip.

  • 16:59

    12 February: Virginia Rometty sets sail for the Far East to rebuild trust after the NSA spying revelations (opens in new tab).

  • 16:58
  • 16:57

    7 February: IBM launches a 10-year initiative to bring its game show-winning supercomputer Watson and other cognitive systems to Africa (opens in new tab).

  • 16:56

    29 January: IBM puts its SDN unit on the block (opens in new tab) for $1 billion (£604 million).

  • 16:55

    23 January: Lenovo bags IBM's server hardware business (opens in new tab) for a record-breaking $2.3 billion (£1.3 billion).

  • 16:53

    22 January: A drop in sales and declining profits leads the chief executive and senior management of IBM to forgo their annual bonuses (opens in new tab) for 2013.

  • 16:52
  • 16:51

    9 January: IBM announces the creation of a new $1 billion (£607 million) division for its gameshow-winning supercomputer Watson (opens in new tab).

  • 16:50

    3 January: IBM teams up with Technicolor to launch a cloud-based monitoring and management service (opens in new tab) to handle the Internet of Things [IoT] and machine-to-machine [M2M] services.

  • 16:47

    Right, shall we take a quick glance at some of IBM's 2014 activities?

  • 16:46

    Rometty-less MWC stage.

  • 16:44

    Sorry about that. Our Wi-Fi connection did indeed go down, but at least you haven't missed anything.

  • 16:12

    Not going to lie, things are getting sweaty. Please forgive me if I drop the live blog machine (laptop).

  • 16:11

    As you know, we're hurrying through the guts of the Fira Gran Via, making our way to Auditorium 1, where the keynote will be staged.

  • 16:02

    Afternoon all!

Aatif is a freelance copywriter and journalist based in the UK. He’s written about technology, science and politics for publications including Gizmodo, The Independent, Trusted Reviews, Newsweek, and ITProPortal.