Virtualized Smartphones No Longer A Distant Reality!

by Gaurav Kheterpal on December 8, 2010

Despite virtualization technology emerging as a game changer in the computing world during the last decade, there have been few takers for mobile virtualization till date. The good news is that virtualized smartphones are finally beginning to take off and will no longer be a distant reality, thanks to collaborative efforts from LG Electronics and VMware.

And it’s little surprise that Android, the world’s most beloved mobile operating system will power the world’s first virtualized smartphone. I have no doubt that mobile virtualization will be a blessing in disguise for enterprise smartphone users who’d no longer need to juggle multiple handsets for professional and personal use.

VMware has attained phenomenal success in the desktop virtualization segment and with Google and LG as its trusted partners; it would be interesting to see if the virtualization giant can go one step better in the mobile world. Only time will tell.

So, what is mobile virtualization and why is it being projected as the next big thing for the mobile industry? The fundamental principle is same as desktop virtualization – the device is partitioned, applications and contacts are isolated to profiles and multiple profiles reside independently on the device. This allows users to configure multiple “identities” on their smartphones and switch between them whenever required, thereby providing a clear separation between work and personal applications and data, and making life easier for people who want to connect personal phones to work systems.

While it sounds simple, mobile virtualization is far more challenging than desktop virtualization due to limited computational resources and integration virtualization capabilities on-chip. VMware announced its Mobile Virtualization Platform over two years ago but the company has found it difficult to find able partners to transform the technology from a Proof-of-Concept to a commercially viable proposition.

People using different cell phones for work and personal use are either forced to use dual-SIM handsets or carry multiple devices. None of these is a particularly exciting prospect – Dual SIM handsets haven’t really taken off and carrying multiple smartphones is a bit of a hassle. In fact, I believe that dual SIM phones might get a fresh lease of life if mobile virtualization takes off. The ability to run two operating systems on a single device is another fascinating proposition of virtualized smartphones. Imagine running the iOS and Android on the same device – the best of both worlds at your fingertips on a single smartphone! Okay, I agree that it’s a long shot and Apple would never license its phone operating system for use on top of an Android-based phone, but the possibilities are damn exciting!

VMware believes that mobile virtualization has a bright future ahead in the enterprise world. It can reduce costs for IT departments, due to reduced spending on cell phones. Though the initial prospects seem encouraging, I strongly believe that it would be a challenge for VMware, Google and LG to trigger mass-scale adoption of virtualized smartphones in the enterprise world. Verizon Wireless has already expressed its interest in supporting the cause of mobile virtualization and it remains to be seen if others carrier join the bandwagon any time soon.

The world’s first virtualized smartphone is due early in 2011. Smartphones are expected to outsell computers by the end of 2012. The future of smartphones looks bright (and virtual)! What do you think?

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. >. Follow > by: RSS>, Twitter >, >, or Friendfeed >

{ 1 comment }

JC December 8, 2010 at 7:01 am

Smartphones will out sell computers? Is that because most people who would own a computer already have one and are moving there purchasing power to a new toy? Or does the Iphone truly offer equal to (if not better then) service?
Honestly, I’m a little skeptical. But I’ll keep an open mind.

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