Virtualization on mobile handsets will improve phone security and stability, and increase the number of applications available to users, according to a new report, “Mobile Handset Virtualization Becoming Reality” from the Strategy Analytics Handset Components Technologies service.

Virtualization—using software to emulate native hardware, so that operating systems and other software applications may run as if they were running on that hardware—is not new in the desktop environment. However, virtualization is just beginning to gain traction in the mobile world, not least due to the recent acquisition of Trango Processors by VMware, one of the major virtualization vendors, in order to support its work with virtualization for ARM-based systems. Additionally, virtualization on mobile phones offers the possibility of allowing multiple operating systems to run on a single piece of hardware, thereby opening up the phone to dozens of applications.

Sravan Kundojjala, Analyst on Strategy Analytics’ Handset Component Technologies service and author of the report, said, “Virtualization will be an important asset for mobile platform vendors to help boost security as mobile systems become more complex and thus more vulnerable to attack. It also offers easy application migration by implementing multiple operating systems and easy de-bugging by hiding critical system functionality.”

Stuart Robinson, service director of the Handset Component Technologies practice, added, “Having multiple, high-level operating systems on a single handset could be the most impressive use of virtualization, allowing users to experience the best of all worlds. However, many vendors will want to maintain proprietary environments and will avoid taking virtualization to this extent.”