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

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