VMWare has announced its Mobile Virtualization Platform for Mobile Phones. The idea is that you run apps within a virtual machine on your device:
Because VMware MVP virtualizes the hardware, handset vendors can develop a software stack with an operating system and a set of applications not tied to the underlying hardware allowing them to deploy the same software stack on a wide variety of phones without worrying about the underlying hardware differences. At the same time, by isolating the device drivers from the operating system, handset vendors can further reduce porting costs by using the same drivers irrespective of the operating system deployed on the phone.
One of the benefits claimed is the ability to switch VMs, for example between home and work versions, and the ability to migrate to a new device by copying the VM from one to another.
VMWare says the Mobile Virtual Platform (MVP) supports:
… a wide range of real-time and rich operating systems including Windows CE 5.0 and 6.0, Linux 2.6.x, Symbian 9.x, eCos, µITRON NORTi and µC/OS-II.
No mention of Apple or iPhone, of course.
Update: I got a little more info from VMWare about this. This is a bare metal VM, so there is no host OS as such. The implication is that you cannot run both the VM and another OS, as on a PC; the VM in effect replaces the OS. This isn’t a product you will be able to buy for your mobile; it will come pre-installed, presuming VMWare is successful in marketing it to mobile phone manufacturers and telecom providers.
The technology comes from a company called Trango which VMWare has acquired. There is a bit more information about the product on Trango’s site.