VMware demonstrated a new virtualization technology designed for smartphones over at the VMworld Europe 2009 conference in Cannes this week. VMware execs showed off a Nokia N800 internet tablet that ran boths Windows CE 6.0 and Android, thanks to the company's Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP).
In today's world, when a company like Nokia brings to market a new phone, that phone is a "Windows Mobile" phone, or an Android phone, or a Symbian phone, etc. The underlying hardware might be able to support any number of mobile OSes, but Nokia (or whoever) has to pick a single OS to tie that hardware to for the life of the product. But if Nokia has a hypervisor that can run a variety of OS options on the same hardware, then the company can easily offer a handset with more than one OS option. Indeed, the mix of OS versions can be trivially adjusted on a store-by-store basis by just shipping phones to stores and having the salesperson load the OS image onto the phone at the point of sale.
So from a carrier and mobile handset manufacturer's perspective, virtualization will increase mobile OS competition and lower the up-front risk of betting on an OS, all while giving carriers more flexibility to manage their product mix on-demand.