I recently had a chance to test Modu, a small mobile phone that acts like the intelligent core of several modular mobile devices. Please take time to see the Modu link before you go on reading this because otherwise it is hard to imagine based on a text description alone. Users will be able to slip their modu into a variety of modu jackets, stylishly designed phone enclosures, or into modu mates, devices like video players, navigation systems or digital cameras.

Modu is a new approach trying to solve the eternal dilemma: should I use an all-in-one device like the iPhone or a standalone device for each feature I need? While the first is more efficient, economical and practical, best results always come from using a dedicated device. If you look for the best iPod experience, with gigs of storage, use an iPod; if you want to take great pictures, get a proper digital camera; if you need to do some serious mobile email work, get a Blackberry; and if you need navigation with turn-by-turn directions, the best solution is a proper GPS you can fit in your car. Still you can use an iPhone to do all this and more with decent results and the comfort of fitting it in your pocket.

Modu takes a different approach. The modu phone can be plugged into jackets that make it into an MP3 player, a GPS system, or a digital camera. You keep a single smart part of the system and add the physical and software interface that best fits the function it needs to accomplish. This is a very smart approach, one that convinced many investors and potential customers. Modu raised $58M in 2008 from VC funds and investors from the mobile industry and several mobile network operators have already committed to selling modu phones, including Telecom Italia, Beeline (Russia) and Cellcom (Israel).

Founder and CEO Dov Moran, inventor of the USB Flash drive, started modu in 2007 in Israel, after selling his previous company, msystems, to SanDisk in 2006 for $1.6 billion.

Thanks Pietro for your help with this article.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

No Comments

FernandoG on January 30, 2009  · 

I love the idea, but I’m a bit skeptical about the chances of really doing good jackets at a reasonable cost. If I’m gonna pay for an emailing jacket, I want it to be like a Blackberry but cheaper, else I’ll buy a BB… and doing it as good as them at a fraction of the cost seems to be difficult…

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JacopoGio on January 30, 2009  · 

I think it is not a good idea, on the contrary!!

Fonctions are not symmetric: if the IPhone is Ok it is because I have all fonctions in 1 device.
But if I need separate devices, then I will get the best of them in every single category !
Why get a Modu phone + a Modu Gps + a Modu camera if they are not the best, smallest, fastest, nicest in every category ??

I will not save space, I will have to get all the different jackets with me and if the central unit has a problem I am without the phone+the camera+the GPS…

The best alternative: to get an even better Iphone 😉

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