I stumbled across today’s Fortune article titled “New phone morphs into multiple devices,” and my first thought was – whatever, phones like the N95 ARE multiple devices already – why bother with morphing? The subject of the article is a new device called the Modu – a completely different take on the multi-functional cell phone.
At first glance, the Modu is tiny (it’s smaller than a credit card) and not really all that functional (it can only make basic phone calls). The trick here is that the device can be inserted into other devices (called jackets) that bring out other functions. For example, you could put the Modu into a GPS jacket to create a device that can send and receive calls and display text messages on screen, as well as get you places. Or you could pop it into a smartphone jacket if you needed to do some heavy emailing on the go.
Modu’s website shows the Modu being inserted into a laptop for most likely wireless modem capabilities.
The basic Modu phone would cost around $300, while jackets would sell for $40-50.
I think it’s a very cool idea, and from a business point of view it’s quite interesting. If you add up the cost of the phone and a couple jackets, you’re already looking at a sub-$500 phone – about the same price as a good smartphone. But a smartphone is limited in what it can do, while the Modu is (technically) infinitely expandable. It would definitely make upgrading less of a chore – all you’d have to do is buy a new jacket.
Of course, the main problem here is that the success of the Modu hinges on the success of its jackets.
Expect the Modu to hit the USA sometime in 2009.