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modu Preview

12th February 2009

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 modu Family

The modu device was first seen at last year's Mobile World Congress, and its stubborn failure to appear led us to think that perhaps it would never make it to market. Well, the good news is that modu say that their phone will launch in 2009 and they have secured a total of $85 million funding to bring it to market.

 Modu being inserted into jacket What makes modu very different from anything else is that it takes a modular approach to phone design. At its heart is a very tiny mobile phone with a very basic set of buttons, 2GB of RAM, a small screen with a graphical user interface and a music player. In itself, the modu phone is probably just about enough for most daily tasks. If you need more, then you slide the modu into a "jacket" which can do a number of things - the simplest jackets really just add a full keypad, but some give it bigger screens and can turn the modu into a fully featured business phone. That's not all, you can plug the modu into a car kit, a sports jacket (for training), docking station or potentially any one of a number of adaptors and accessories.

The exact specifications of the modu phone are not clear at present, but we understand that the phone and a basic range of jackets are slated for release sometime this year.

 Modu phone There is no doubt that this is very clever indeed, and the approach could well be very appealing to many people. After all, sometimes you really don't want to carry a bulky handset around.. and sometimes you need a fully featured mobile. Swapping SIMs is one way to do this, but that doesn't carry across all your contacts and settings.

So, this is a very cool device. But who will buy it? We think that there are three main problems. Firstly, hardly anyone has ever heard of modu and getting brand recognition will be difficult. Secondly, there's no real guarantee that the wide range of cool modu jackets and accessories will ever turn up. Finally, what happens with future modu handsets.. will they still fit into the accessories you have bought?

If this phone was the Apple iPhone Nano then it would fly off the shelves. Obviously, this isn't an Apple device, but it is certainly cool enough and clever enough to compete in that sort  of market. Heck, we bet that a company like Motorola would love to have come up with something like this. But as it is, we think that modu are going to have a tough time drawing attention to this remarkable device.. perhaps one of the bigger players might like to buy the whole company?

We have other pictures of the modu and its jackets in our gallery, or you can have a look at the full range of proposed modu components and learn more from their web site.


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