Google Plans Modular Phone
Google plans to test market a modular phone that has multiple optional components that can all be hot-swapped or replaced, which might extend the life of such devices.
Have you ever had a new and awesome smartphone, but somehow the screen became cracked? Perhaps you still love your year-old smartphone, but the declining battery life is beginning to become a hassle. Are you eyeing a new phone simply because it has one feature that is appealing, such as a higher-resolution camera?
The ability to upgrade or replace a single component of an otherwise perfectly functioning and acceptable device could significantly change our relationship with such technology, and extend their functional lifespan. In fact, as long as every component can be replaced, you may never have to buy a new phone – just keep replacing individual parts as necessary.
In addition the modular design would allow you to customize the phone, with specific features that are appealing to you. You could opt for extended battery life, better speakers, a laser pointer, or additional wireless options.
Google says their new phone will have 20-30 modular options when the phone launches, which they plan to do in Puerto Rico later this year.
If a market for modular phones takes off, there could also be a proliferation of modules developed by independent companies.
It remains to be seen how consumers will accept the new concept in smartphones.
I hope the idea survives long enough to see its full potential. In fact, other devices, such as laptops and desktop computers, could also be revolutionized with a modular design. The industry could move in this direction, leading to desktop computers in which the consumer can easily replace any component, upgrading one piece at a time.
In an industry where obsolescence happens so quickly, the modular approach may be the best option for consumers.
There are also many trade offs for the consumer, balancing size, battery life, features, and cost. With a modular design consumers will have far more control over how to balance those trade offs.