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Cellphone Virtualization on Horizon

So now VMware wants to add virtualization to mobile phones. That is an interesting new direction, to be sure. My question is, is this a legitimate play by VMware, or a desire to capitalize on a hot market, one currently untapped by virtualization?

I think it's more of the former. I like the idea of a bare-metal hypervisor on a smartphone/cellphone. It gives you the option of running whichever OS you like best, or taking the best of each. For instance, I would love to use the Windows Mobile OS to use Microsoft applications like Word and Excel on my iPhone. I'd use the iPhone OS for everything else, because it absolutely crushes Windows Mobile in all other areas, but being able to use Word on iPhone would be a big deal.

Of course, the other aspect of that is that Microsoft, Apple et al. would have to support the virtualizing of their mobile OSes. How likely is that to happen? Hard to say, but my gut reaction tells me their would be a lot of initial resistance, until the vendors realize the kind of revenue that could be gained by having its OS on potentially every mobile phone in existence.

Another question is whether a typical phone has the resources to handle virtualization. Using even good PC virtualization programs like Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMware Fusion, for example, really slow down my brawny MacBook Pro; I can't imagine what virtualization might do to cellphone performance, given their much less powerful specs.

But ultimately, those are just details. I like the way VMware is thinking ahead on this, and we'll be watching its progress closely.

In the meantime, what's your take on smartphone/cellphone/mobile device virtualization?

Posted by Keith Ward on 11/11/2008 at 12:48 PM


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