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Modu Modular Phone Finally Launches

Gordon Kelly by

Modu Modular Phone Finally Launches

Remember Modu? Yep, I tried really hard to forget too but one of 2008's most over hyped products and heavily flawed products is finally coming to market... sort of.

The news is the tiny (46g) EDGE-only handset will be unveiled for a second year running at the Mobile World Congress next week before a Q2 launch in minor markets. Notably, both the US and UK will be left off the list because the rather daft omission of 3G means they - correctly - think no one would buy it.

Doesn't sound so inspiring really, so what is it that the world (wrongly) got itself into such a state of self lubrication over? In short: modularity. Much in the same way rather rubbish low end mobiles can snap on different covers, the Modu can attach various 'Jackets' to bolster its functionality. Such jackets include gaming friendly covers, music friendly covers, external speakers and the like.

The argument goes that consumers will only pay for functionality they need so this system allows for the purchase of a base handset with Bluetooth and 2GB of internal memory which can then be upgraded with suitable covers as and when needed. Yep, rubbish. I thought so in early 2008 when I spent a good hour explaining why to a Modu rep and one year later I feel even more strongly.

Why? To quote last year's now even more valid argument:

"Quite frankly phones are small enough and already come jam packed with functionality out of the box, they can snap pictures, record videos, seamlessly pair with Bluetooth car kits and stereos and yes, even Bluetooth enabled digital photo frames.

So quite WHY anyone would want to strip all this away is beyond me. If you don't need a digital camera DON'T use it, if you don't want GPS DON'T use it, but at least it's there if you do and these days most phones come virtually free on any decent monthly contract.

Let's take a real world example: you're going on holiday so whereas previously you'd pack your phone and its charger, here you'd pack the phone, its charger and the four or five large jackets you may or may not need for additional functions. Out on a day trip and snapping pictures before using the GPS to guide you home? Hope you brought the right jackets... what a faff! And the final nail in this concept: with a jacket on it's the same size as a regular mobile!"

I'll also add an extortionate circa £100 is now being mooted for the base handset alone, so how much will the total outlay be including a few extra jackets? Oh dear.

When could the US and UK receive the mind numbing little thing? Not until sometime in 2010 apparently by which time we'll have even cheaper and more fully featured phones in every price sector than we do now. Bye Modu. Don't forget to shut the door on your way out.

Sheesh, even slotMusic isn't this stupid - and that's really saying something.



Go to comments


February 12, 2009, 11:18 am

the idea is just a few years too late, i think

Martin Daler

February 12, 2009, 12:40 pm

phones are virtually free? you really have swallowed the hook. of course we pay for all the junk on phones, hundreds of pounds per year taken from our bank accounts under anaesthetic. at least give this idea some space to germinate before you rubbish it to protect your own prior opinion.


February 12, 2009, 3:23 pm

I dunno, I still quite like the idea of a modular phone, although it really will live or die on how well the "modules" are designed and if they are cost effective. If it is a case of one jacket for the camera, one jacket for the GPS ect then yes, thats a dumb idead and will not work, but then if its more like one case has a camera, next has a camera and GPS, next has camera, GPS and touchscreen.... then that idea is probably workable, as you would be able to pick and choose what functions are important to you. When I used to own an iPhone I used to absolutely love having all the functions day to day, but then when I go out to the pub I dont want to have to carry such a bulky phone around with me because a) I hardly use my phone when im out drinking (drink responsibly kids) and b) chances are the phone will get bumped, bashed and possibly get wet depending on what happens that night. With a modular phone I could just change the jacket from the touchscreen one I use during the day, to a tougher jacket for when I go out.

Stupid not to have 3G tho, I wouldnt be interested until that is rectified


February 12, 2009, 6:56 pm

Err Martin, you usually don't get any cut if you choose not to buy a phone do you? The only downside is that you are bound to pay--in terms of time.


February 12, 2009, 8:01 pm

The concept of a modular phone is fine, but this approach is all wrong. As you rightly point out the form factor of a typically phone is capable of supporting various additional features. Since there is no major trade-off it serves no purpose to make them modular. For example a removable battery is modular and makes sense for smart phones. You may want to use an extended battery when away on a business trip. The Modu is just a phone in a case!!

Energizer Bunny

February 12, 2009, 9:50 pm

So you're a fan then Gordon?


February 12, 2009, 10:50 pm

@Energizer Bunny - tend to believe the name of the site means I should be honest, for better or worse ;)

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