Assuming that we are nearing a new movement in how mobile phones are developed, what will be the main reason mobile virtualization takes off for mobile handsets? Open Kernal Labs, which has been championing the concept of mobile virtualization, made a number of announcements at CTIA and the months leading up to the show that have some wondering just how far it will go.
Virtualization in a smartphone has the potential to deliver a number of benefits that can include the running of dual operating systems which is interesting to enterprises that have standardized on a platform but allow their users to choose their own mobile phones. Its also has the interest of operators that want the higher ARPU that smartphones produce, but still want to migrate their legacy applications. However, none of that will be the draw that lower costs will be. The ability to consolidate hardware including CPUs, reduce the phone’s memory requirements, allow smaller batteries to be used because fewer individual CPUs and components are supported, all lead to a lower overall BOM cost.
As retail prices continue to decline on smartphones, pressure will mount on the wholesale prices and OEMs willstart to get creative in how to lower BOM costs. Could virtualization be the way? Undoubtedly a number of OEM will give it a try. Motorola already has with its Evoke, which runs a propriety Linux OS and Brew.
At CTIA, OK Labs announced a new virtualization product called Android One Core, which helps OEMs streamline the development of low-cost Android-based smartphones for the mass market. It achieves this by consolidating application, multimedia, and baseband radio processing onto a single CPU which may allow Android phones to be built at the average cost of a basic phone. Android was always intended to scale from the most capable of smartphone down to the lowest-end of the smartphone scale. That low-end, however, just got lower.