Smartphones are wireless, they’re mobile, they’re even cellular (though who really calls them that anymore), but virtual? In this case the term does not apply to cyberspace, where a virtual phone call comes in from a virtual friend on your virtual smartphone. No, in terms of the future of smartphones as a product, a medium, and an industry, we’re talking about “virtualization”, as heralded by the promising work of one company, the aptly-named VirtualLogix.
To some, the term virtualization may be familiar as applied to computers and servers, wherein virtualization technology helps their hardware to run better and enables them to juggle multiple operating systems. In terms of smartphones, virtualization would mean a quantum leap forward for consumers in the functionality of their favorite little handheld device.
To give some perspective on the possibilities here, let’s take a step back from smartphones and look at plain, old, everyday cell phones. Virtualization technology can turn a regular cell phone into a smartphone. Now start to imagine what that suggests the technology might do for phone that’s already smart. Make it smarter? Better? Faster? It’s starting to sound like the 6 Million Dollar Smartphone.
Smartphone makers – read: Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, RIM, Apple – will be able to install VirtualLogix virtualization software during manufacture, and give them the ability to run multiple operating systems. Imagine no longer having to miss out on the productivity features of Windows Mobile because you opted for the user-friendlier interface of the BlackBerry, for example. Or being able to install Apple’s iPhone OS on your Palm.
This also means (listen-up all you technophiles) that users will be able to install Linux on their smartphones without interfering with the phone’s existing OS. To the average consumer, this may not seem like much, but people who know Linux know how many useful and convenient plugins with completely user-friendly interfaces the technophile and average consumer alike will have access to in no time at all. vivo v20
It also means that consumers can look forward to getting, as one web writer put it, “a high-end feature on a low-end phone”. This kind of versatility could mean more feature-rich smartphones at lower cost to the consumer. It could mean a neo-video game revolution on smartphones. And it could redefine what customization means in terms of smartphones, as users will be able to make their trusty handheld devices as uniquely functional and stylish as are they themselves.
And if you think the idea of having a combination BlackBerry-Palm-Windows Mobile-iPhone is a pipe dream, consider the fact that Cisco Systems, Intel, Texas Instruments, and Motorola have all invested large amounts of capital into the venture.