Virtualizing Android would certainly help solve some of the problems facing the platform, but it's not a magic bullet that will eliminate all ills.
ZDNet's Jason Perlow believes that Google will virtalize Android during the coming year:
Android fragmentation and update lag is a very real problem. It undermines consumer as well as developer confidence in the long-term sustainability of the platform, this despite the fact that Android now occupies the lion’s share of the smartphone market.
The actual solution to the Android update problem has been materializing in the background for the last two years and will almost certainly show its face sometime in productized form in 2012. And that's Android Virtualization.
There's no doubt that fragmentation and non-existent updates for handsets is a serious problem for the Android platform. And there's no doubt that virtualization would help make deploying the Android platform to handsets a lot easier. A virtualized OS would be far offer a far more platform-independent platform than the current offering allows. But there are still serious issues that virtualization doesn't solve.
- Virtualization doesn't guarantee forward-compatibility While virtualization solves a lot of problems related to hardware compatibility, there's no guarantee that a hypervisor installed on a handset today will be compatible with future Android code. It should work for updates within a major version, but for version jumps, problems would still remain.
- There's a performance hit Virtualization comes at a price ... performance. Not much of a performance hit, but it's not a zero-cost solution.
- OEMs will still want to add their own branding and crapware One of the delays in getting Android updates out onto user handsets is that handset OEMs want to add their own branding and crapware to handsets.
- Carriers will also want to add branding and crapware The carriers will also want to have their oar in the update process.
Virtualization is only part of the answer. As I've said before, Google needs to step up and fix Android:
- Streamline the highly-complex update process, possibly by adopting virtualization
- Publish a minimum hardware spec that handset makers must follow
- Cut carriers out of the equation, or at least sideline them (like Apple has done with iOS), and possibly go as far as cutting the hardware makers out too (like Microsoft has done with Windows Phone)
- Discourage handset makers from locking bootloaders, thus encouraging the dev community and homebrew projects
- Discourage carrier branding and crapware (after all, all that bloatware isn’t helping make Android handsets any safer)
To achieve this, Google may well have to throw all the OEMs under the bus and go the Apple route, leveraging Motorola (assuming that deal doesn't go belly up at some point). If |Google got serious about creating a range of quality Android handsets, other OEMs would be forced to follow suit.
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