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Motorola invests in virtual mobiles

Can't pick an OS? Have them all

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Motorola has invested in mobile virtualisation provider VirtualLogix, creating the possibility of a handset that can switch between different OSs almost as quickly as Motorola declares support for them.

VirtualLogix has software that allows different environments to coexist on a mobile phone. In theory, this means the user could switch between Symbian, Windows Mobile, or a Blackberry environment. Why they would want to isn't clear.

Fans of virtual mobilisation talk about secure environments and sandboxes, but users want applications that integrate with their existing experience - not the ability to launch a sandbox that would have no access to their existing address book or inbox.

The best VirtualLogix can present is a handset that switches between work and home personalities, with the two completely separated. Many of us might wish our lives were so divided, but in reality the two are increasingly blurred.

The investment comes from Motorola Ventures. The company's devices division has, at various times, declared support for just about every mobile phone operating system and platform, as well as developing one or two of its own.

The recent poor performance of Motorola handsets has been largely attributed to this fragmented approach to software. So why the company has invested in a technology that enables different platforms to co-exist on the same hardware is something of a mystery - though it joins Intel, Cisco, and Texas Instruments in backing VirtualLogix.

It's possible that Motorola sees potential for VirtualLogix away from handsets. The firm also sells embedded equipment to enterprises. VirtualLogix promotes itself as mobile virtualisation, but the technology would be equally applicable to embedded solutions.

Motorola Ventures managing director Reese Schroeder sees the technology in both places: "Our investment in VirtualLogix will help accelerate the delivery of their technology to next-generation communications devices and infrastructure equipment." ®

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