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VMware to virtualize Android smartphones for business users

Jon Brodkin | Dec. 7, 2010
VMware is teaming with LG to sell Android smartphones that are virtualized, allowing a single phone to run two operating systems, one for business use and one for personal use.

From an IT management perspective, VMware will sell management tools as well as provide a software development kit that lets existing management platforms connect to the VMware system. One potential management benefit of a virtualized phone is that IT could encrypt the work data or perform remote wipes without affecting a user's personal stuff.

For the guest operating system, VMware and LG gave the example of a second instance of Android running on top of the host Android OS. It remains to be seen whether technical reasons or licensing concerns could prevent IT shops from installing other mobile operating systems as guests on top of the virtualized Android devices.

On this issue, VMware says: "VMware's strategy with mobile phones will be very similar to our approach in the PC space. Users have the ability to run any supported guest operating system as long as it complies with predetermined licensing guidelines."

No pricing is being announced yet for the virtualized Android phones, and neither VMware nor LG would say when exactly in 2011 they expect the first devices to hit the market.

"We want to make this available to as many phones as possible," says James Park, LG's director of strategy and business development.

While LG is the first phone manufacturer to hop on board, Krishnamurti says VMware is "talking to a lot of OEM's and carrier partners."

IDC analyst Ian Song says VMware will probably beat rival Citrix to market in the mobile hypervisor space, but that LG is not the ideal partner. VMware is likely trying to sign up additional manufacturers, such as Samsung, he says.

"LG has virtually no presence in the Android market," Song said.

 

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