Thursday, February 26, 2009

Virtualization on mobiles.

Virtualization on mobile phones has been talked about since quite some time. But, only recently did we actually see anything demonstrable. VMWare demoed their virtualization solution for the Nokia N800 device. They showed Windows CE and Android running side by side on the same device. Here is the video:

You can read the article here.

The big question however is - of what use is virtualization on a mobile phone ?
From an end user's POV the answer can probably be - portability. Suppose, i use a Nokia phone with all my favorite apps to check mail, measure and record my running speed (with the GPS), play various video formats, read bar codes etc etc. Moreover, I store and backup my contacts using Nokia provided s/w which stores them in their (possibly) proprietary format. Now, suppose, for some good reason I wish to migrate to another platform, say Windows Mobile, I would have a hard time adjusting with the new setup. More importantly, I'll have to find and buy new software for the new phone to suit my needs.
Instead, if i could run whichever mobile OS i want on the hardware i own, then i would get the benefit of portability and easy migration. I would be able to run my Nokia apps as well as take the advantage of the Windows platform. That saves me a lot of trouble.
Going ahead, even further, if one could seamlessly run apps from one mobile platform on the other(like what VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop enable us to do) , then it would be really amazing and useful.
If the virtual platform (VMWare's Mobile Virtual Platform for example) becomes popular enough, then mobile companies will start building their OSes for the virtual platform instead of tying up to a specific hardware. This would further increase its popularity and acceptance. Of course, this is easier said than done. But, one cannot say that things won't go that way in the future.

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