Apple does not go to trade shows. They don't want to compete for air space with the likes of Nokia and HTC. Apple even outgrew the trade show that was specifically devoted to them. Mobile World Congress doesn't stand a chance. That is why it is worth noting that despite their absence, Apple's iPad Air won tablet of the year.
I doubt Apple considers this a particularly big deal. But it must truly grate on the nerves of those who are there. The award would mean a great deal to the smaller companies who made the trip and the effort to win. I can't tell if this speaks to the obvious quality of the iPad, or the obvious lack of quality in competing tablets. At any rate, congratulations, Apple.