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Modu T Proves Modu Has Learnt Nothing

Gordon Kelly


Updated: Modu T Proves Modu Has Learnt Nothing

Update 19.11.10: And now it is about to go bust.

Do you remember the Modu phone? Chances are you don't and that's because it was a really horrible idea. First demoed in February 2008 it took until February 2009 to launch (not in the UK) and only sold in teeny, tiny numbers. Well if at first you don't succeed...

The company is back with the 'Modu T' which it claims is the world's lightest touchscreen handset. It has a form factor smaller than a credit card, packs in a 1.3in OLED display, 3G and 2GB of memory. It employs a proprietary widget based OS (why not just use Android?) and it's also about as useless as its predecessor.

What all the hate? In short because the Modu T keeps up the same silly central idea as the original Modu which is: make a tiny, basic handset which can use hot-swappable 'Jackets' that add different functionality. For example there's a camera Jacket and a GPS Jacket which all have to be carried around with you and add extra expense. .

So to quote my now two year old anti-Modu argument - since it is now more relevant than ever:

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!

Yep, if money is tight, grab something like an HTC Hero which is going for almost nothing and ditch this.

The Modu T will supposedly be out in Q4, but I doubt we'll get it by then in the UK - if at all. Wondering what the Jackets will look like? So are we, but to give you some light comic relief below is the original Modu with its MP3 player and GPS Jackets.

Oh and before you go saying "It's an old phone, don't be mean" the company has also just announced the original Modu is now on sale in the UK. The price will be £130 sim free for the small basic handset with Jackets having RRPs of £59.99 each. Money saver? Pah!

I'd like to say "Back to the drawing board Modu" but clearly it tried that and learnt absolutely nothing...




July 14, 2010, 11:26 am

What you worte is crap, the main idea of the modu is not the phone it self because you wouldnt use him most of the time, also we dont need to carry with us al the jackets and this is the idea: We dont really need big smartphone all the time, sometime he are going for trip than we would take a camera jackets which have also MP3 player, and when we whould go just to hang out we would take the night jacket which contains 3.2MPX camera and MP3 player... and I guess the MODU T will have muuch better jacktes because of the 3.5.

Martin Daler

July 14, 2010, 11:51 am

I'm in - where do I get my HTC Hero for "almost nothing" please?


July 14, 2010, 11:53 am

I would've loved to have been a fly on the wall when they found out about the X10 Mini.


July 14, 2010, 11:59 am

Although I agree with your aricle that this particular phone looks crap, I'm still very much sold on the idea as long as it's implemnted properly! For example, imagine if you had a "jacket" that was as good as the top of the range android phones for using it as a phone, a tablet one as good as the ipad so you can just slide your phone intothat for instant tablet web surfing, a jacket that's completely waterproof and impact proof for those nights out.... Ect I think it would really take off, you'd just have to make sure the jackets were reasonably priced (ie less than it would cost to just get a seperate tablet pc)


July 14, 2010, 12:58 pm

The trouble with that approach is that you'd basically be reducing the role of the central "Modu" to the job of a cellular radio, a component which costs maybe £1 wholesale. The shells would still cost almost as much as a top-of-the-range tablet, and a top-of-the-range phone. In that case, why go to the trouble of swapping the central Modu component around? Why not simply buy a top-of-the-range tablet and phone?


July 14, 2010, 1:22 pm

@sockaturne "In that case, why go to the trouble of swapping the central Modu component around? Why not simply buy a top-of-the-range tablet and phone?"

Simple, because in my "vision" it would cost about the same to get the modular version as it would cost to get the seperates, and it would make interoperability between devices so much easier than it is now.

For example, say that the modular part had the cellular radio and also was the storage device and ran the operating software, as mentioned before you could have a "jacket" that works like a top of the range smartphone so when you are travelling you can edit documents, photos, media on the go as you can with any other phone, but when you get somewhere where you have more room you could slide out the module and put it into the tablet jacket without missing a step, no transfering data over an SD card (if the company allow that in the first place, ahem apple), no issues with formatting of the documents you are working on or software inoperability ect, it would really just work...


July 14, 2010, 1:46 pm

@Stelph - I'm with sockaturne on this one. There's a reason for the whole move towards device convergence, that's what people want. I don't want to have to carry around multiple devices, I only want to carry a single device that allows me to take photos, play music/videos, play games, email, view/edit documents - oh, and make phone calls....

If you can use bluetooth, and/or wi-fi, and/or 3G (etc.) to transfer the data, then data transfer becomes a non-issue.


July 14, 2010, 3:28 pm

You guys knwo nothing.

First jackets are very cheap. Photo frame costs like 70£, Night Jacket whcih has 3.2 camera costs 40 -50£. it is really cheap and not costs like top-of-the range phone..

The main idea in this phone is the abillty to have your data in diffrent types of devices, means you can have a multimedia jacket, take some images with him and then put the phone in the photo frame etc..

though i guess that the Modu1 wont have a multimedia jacket because of the OS but the next Modu T will be much samrter and even without any jacket will be smartphone...

by the way - i got the modu since last year and bought all the jackets =}

meeto 0

July 14, 2010, 4:04 pm

I just dont know. I had to youtube the company to properly understand how it works. Most of the jackets look ugly. As a concept Im not interested. I have always believed in separates. A camera is a camera, a game handheld is a game handheld and so on.

If im going out why would I not just pick up my camera. My camera doesnt need all the info that is stored in my phone. Nor does my DS. Can modu compete with high end seperates? IF not why wouldnt I just use my smart phone to take a cheap photo or play a basic game?


July 14, 2010, 4:52 pm

I think it's a great idea, I never go anywhere without my house just incase I get a call.


July 14, 2010, 5:42 pm

@CoolUser: Learn to speak English. Also, I think you are a company employee!

@Retrogeneration: Are you a snail with a land line?

A photo frame costs 70 euro? That's about what they cost anyway!

I'm with TR on this one. It's CR@P


July 14, 2010, 5:44 pm

@ CoolUser - Spot the Israeli fan who's suspiciously way too enthusiastic about technology that would have been considered obsolete several years ago. This is junk and nothing more than glorified landfill. I hazard a guess that it will disappear, along with the company I suspect, within 18 months.

Not one of Dov Moran's smartest investments, not that he should care that much as he has money to burn. So ill-conceived. Bye Bye Modu!


July 14, 2010, 5:57 pm

Hey CoolUser! Do you by any chance work for Modu? Cos no offence, but that read like a sals pitch - and do you know what? It still failed!


July 14, 2010, 6:39 pm

@ Hazellhoff

"Learn to speak English" Comments like that make my blood boil. Not everyone you meet on the internet lives in an English speaking country. So arrogant!

Cooluser does sound like he at least has shares in the company though. Good try, good try.


July 14, 2010, 6:48 pm

While I agree with TR that the Modu isn't going to work I can see a little sense in the concept. It's not really anti-convergence. You still have the one device, you can just up it's abilities. To pick everyone's favourite company; how would people view this if Apple did it?

Imagine the iPhone with a proper "jacket" (to use Modu's terminology) with buttons for gaming.

A keyboard jacket for long emails or lots of texting.

Not so much necessary on the new iPhone but improved jackets for camera would have been wonderful,

The Modu Nav jacket doesn't look so bad, proper dedicated keys make sense to me for each task and when you just want a phone, remove jacket no more bulky Nav. Better than an all-in-one.

If it all worked seemlessly with the device OS and were prettier than the Modu jackets would people be so vitriolic?

Yes I could get a separate camera. Yes I could get a DS or PSP. Yes I could get a Blackberry. etc. But if one device can do it all and constantly get improved jackets and have all my data, games, emails, etc in the one place then for me at least that'd be far preferable. Modu might not be the company to do this, but as an idea I think it holds merit. I mean it's not so differnt to having battery packs, fm transmitters, etc, etc that the iPhone does have. Just make them official so developers know what to program against (having a closed OS with no Apps - as i imagine the Modu has - isn't going to help matters either).

So, an Android phone with jackets, could work... ?


July 14, 2010, 7:33 pm

@all - we'll ignore the comments from cooluser since the account was only registered to comment on this story (read that how you will).

The real problem here is fragmentation and practicality.

Yes it would be funky to be able to take my cheap, inexpensive phone and buy a £50 cover which produced brilliant photos or any other such ability.

The flaws are a) to make these covers genuinely impressive their dedicated functionality would cost substantially more than £50 and b) you have to remember you're working with a basic handset at the heart of it all with a cheap, proprietary UI and small screen - a fundamental limitation.

Add to this@ What covers should you take on any given trip without them filling a bag? The inventory nightmare for shops trying to work out what covers to stock for which handsets and the fact larger companies will simply have no interest in the fragmentation it would lead to on their production lines trying to make masses of these low-margin covers and it's doomed.

Sorry cooluser, but it is.


July 14, 2010, 7:53 pm

First, NO i am not worikng for modu (LOL).

Second. I dont live at Isreal and either USA so stop make jokes of my english its insulting @_@

and to the topic. At my country its very cheap.. like 120$ for modu + four jackets..

which make it very good choise for me because the iphone for expample costs 500+$.

to my usage it fit; because I dont browsing throgh the phone etc..

And you all forgot that this topic is about Modu T which wont be basic handset...


July 14, 2010, 8:03 pm

@CoolUser, Is this you?: http://www.youtube.com/watc...


July 14, 2010, 8:08 pm

@CoolUser - given Modu is selling the original (2 year old) Modu phone for £130 and charging £50 for each jacket this means getting a phone with camera, MP3 player and GPS capabilities would set us back £280. Hardly good value.

Your example would cost £330 here, in GBP the price you claim works out at just £78 which takes it to the opposite end of the scale and I do not believe Modu any chance of being profitable at that cost so I have to doubt your claim.

If Modu IS indeed selling its phone that cheaply in your country it should be condemned for ripping off UK customers to a level never witnessed before by any other technology company in UK pricing history.


July 14, 2010, 8:42 pm


I do know something. I know that my wife and I never take our digital cameras anywhere because we have cameras in our phones. I don't carry a separate satnav because I have it on my phone. I don't carry a separate diary anymore because it's on my phone. I don't carry my laptop everywhere because I can browse the 'net and update documents on my phone. I don't have a separate media player - you guessed it, because it's on my phone!

All this functionality in a single device that fits in my pocket and I don't have to carry around in a bag....

But each to their own, if it works for you then great.

@Gordon - the covers could be made to work if there were standards for format, size, interface etc. Then the covers could be made by specialist camera manufacturers etc. Can't see it happening though due to the likely fragmentation and how would they differentiate their phones?

Tim Sutton

July 15, 2010, 2:34 am

This is actually real! I had to Google it because I honestly couldn't believe it. The official website is.. interesting too.

Why anyone would choose something as cumbersome and awkward as this over any half decent phone made in the last 3 years is beyond me.

Even if for some inexplicable reason you want to carry 4 devices and a tiny screened phone with you at all times, the prices are just stupid. The frames are £60! Why wouldn't you just buy a dedicated SatNav, camera, photo frame and MP3 player?

You'd end up with much better quality products and you could show them to people without having to embarrass yourself by AirFix-ing your phone.



July 15, 2010, 6:50 am

@Tim Sutton you + me = same hymn sheet


July 15, 2010, 2:31 pm

Gordon, I'm with you on this one. I mean, please! My wife just got a Sony Experia X10 Mini Pro. It turned up at her office yesterday, and I was quite keen to have a play with it because it was me who recommended it to her. However, It's so small I had difficulty finding it in her handbag. It comes with a camera, media player, radio, etc etc blah blah blah. And it's tiny!

Neil B

July 15, 2010, 6:00 pm

I actually think there is some benefit to the modular approach, just not implemented (or priced) in the way it is here.

Imagine a standard phone 'brick', no buttons, just the touch-screen and all devices (camera, gps, etc..) plus ports and card slots. A 'jacket' could then be used to add a control surface. The phone manufacturer (or others depending on if it became an open standard) could have different jackets to suit the user, much in the same way Nokia produces different phones.

Need a slide out QWERTY keyboard? Buy the jacket that gives you this.

Need dedicated music buttons? Buy the jacket that gives you this.

Once a jacket is on, you still have all the functionality so no need to keep changing jackets.

Jackets in this instance could be incredibly cheap as they'll just offer buttons, no devices.

I do agree though that the Modu implementation is truly awful.



July 15, 2010, 8:23 pm

I like the idea of a controller style add-on with battery pack for gaming. I feel apple will do this one day and that WILL change the game (so to speak). I would buy something like that.

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