Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Move Over iPhone - DIY Cellphones Are Coming


The lure of Apple's iPhone notwithstanding, most cell phones today are essentially variations on the same theme. Not so modu, a tiny, modular phone that is designed to be snapped into other devices.

Resembling a black and white domino, the modu is smaller than a credit card and weighs just 1.3 ounces. It can be used on its own as a fully functional mobile phone, or it can be snapped into a variety of interchangeable ‘sleeves’ that enhance the phone with other capabilities. By slipping a modu into the modu media mate, for example, users can download and share movie clips with their friends. Inserting it in the modu music slider, on the other hand, transforms it into a high-end music phone equipped with dedicated music functionality keys, high-quality loudspeaker and hidden camera. modu night mate lets users dock their phone next to their bed while it quietly displays their incoming SMS messages and calls. Through a partnership with Universal Music Group, a series of music jackets will include artist-specific attributes and access to preloaded content and music subscriptions. modu features 1GB of built-in memory and Bluetooth connectivity, and can also be used as a mass storage device. The first modu products are due in the fourth quarter of this year; prices, reportedly, will be USD 200 for the phone module bundled with two jackets, with additional jackets priced from USD 20 to USD 60 each.

Israeli modu was founded in 2007 by Dov Moran, founder and CEO of USB flash drive maker msystems, and the modu device was unveiled earlier this month. Strategic partners include leading mobile network operators including Telecom Italia’s mobile division TIM, BeeLine (VimpelCom) of Russia and Israel's Cellcom along with mainstream consumer electronics manufacturers including Blaupunkt, the company says. Opportunities include degrees of customization that were previously unthinkable. For anyone in wireless or consumer electronics, this is one to watch closely!

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