MobileMonday, the global community for professionals in the mobile industry, has named 42 nominees for its annual Mobile Peer Awards, due to take place in Barcelona on Feb. 16. All of the acknowledged companies are startups in the mobile space, and each was chosen by a different MobileMonday organization chapter–including eight from different metropolitan chapters in the United States.

This year’s American selections — Soonr, WorldMate, rmbrME, MocoSpace, Keynetik, Cirius Technologies, Crave Mobile, and Big in Japan (and many of their overseas peers) — are representative of the trend toward mobile social networking and the growing desire among casual consumers to access information from anywhere via their handheld devices.

For instance, Soonr, the Silicon Valley nominee, lets users create personal computing clouds by downloading desktop and iPhone applications — essentially letting them access their data regardless of time and location. WorldMate provides instant download updates to cell phones, rmbrME allows users to share their contact networks with others, Cirius provides location-based advertising services, Big in Japan is the developer of shopping network Shop Savvy, and Crave and MocoSpace are simply well executed social networks. The exception is Keynetik, which builds applications that capitalize on device accelerometers and motion sensing — though these attributes could potentially be applied to social gaming and networking functions.

Some of the international nominees have also made headlines stateside. Oxynade, out of Brussels, aggregates event listings across thousands of web sites through its specialized search engine Happenr (and raised $1.3 million in first-round funding in December). Mobile chat app Palringo, based in London, has made a name for itself by letting users send vocal instant messages through its VoIP platform. Also pouncing on the VoIP scene is Tel Aviv-based Fring, which provides free mobile calls via Skype, AIM and other chat clients.

Initially, 163 startups total applied to participate in the contest. In the next week, a jury of panelists from all over the world will pare the list down to 20 finalists, to be announced on Jan. 26. The Mobile Peer Awards (sponsored in part by VentureBeat) is widely regarded as one of the most influential events in the mobile industry, annually drawing more than 1,000 attendants and bestowing a mantle of legitimacy and success on the winners. You can view a list of past honorees here.