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Google's modular phone

Postby scrotum » February 28th, 2014, 7:40 pm

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Re: Google's modular phone

Postby NURB » February 28th, 2014, 9:13 pm

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...and? What do you think?
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Re: Google's modular phone

Postby Robbie_roy » February 28th, 2014, 10:03 pm

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On a side note, the article's mention of the Handspring Springboard got me off track for thirty minutes reading about Palm PDA history. The golden days ...

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Re: Google's modular phone

Postby nxakt » February 28th, 2014, 10:05 pm

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I want to see the mini-sidewalk sale when someone drops it.

Re: Google's modular phone

Postby Cyberdemon » March 1st, 2014, 7:56 pm

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I commend them for dedicating the resources, and if nothing else I see value in some of the challenges they'll solve along the way which may lead to innovations in other areas.

With that said, their own admission that they're a long way from integrating the 6+ antennas most phones have, the giant battery packs or many other issues makes this more of a high end Arduino-like solution rather than a smart phone.

I can see a point where a hybrid approach of adding an expansion module or two to something like the traditional smart phone or Google Glass will be a benefit. Someone with a $50 smartphone base may want to add a high res camera or a 3D scanner or some other future tech that doesn't make sense for a unique device but makes sense for an add on.

Re: Google's modular phone

Postby Mr-914 » March 3rd, 2014, 7:59 am

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Nokia recently upgraded my phone's camera via a software update. It seems far easier to upgrade via software nowadays and occasionally just replace the whole phone. This still seems like an idea that would be great in '85
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Re: Google's modular phone

Postby NURB » March 3rd, 2014, 9:01 am

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I feel that way with iOS. Moving from 5 to 6 and especially to 7, I feel like I've gotten a new phone each time. The hardware doesn't need to change as often anymore.
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Re: Google's modular phone

Postby pier » March 4th, 2014, 4:30 pm


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I think this is very interesting, actually something new in a rapidly stagnating market. It's difficult to say where smartphone market will go, currently it seems to be cheap throwaway but that seems to be inherently limited.

Could module development be open like application development? This could develop a self sustaining market, hundreds or thousands of different block module application developers. A "secure" block, making your smartphone into a stealth device, this might have significant appeal in todays hysteria. Medical application blocks, this would have great appeal. Automotive blocks, (un)lock, start, locate, routine diagnostics (oil change). Vanity, people like to customize, a huge opportunity to develop limitless permutations of vanity blocks' colours, textures and materials.

A large potential list, but a fundamentally different market than existing.

Re: Google's modular phone

Postby Cyberdemon » March 4th, 2014, 5:25 pm

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I don't think it's as different as you think.

Smart phones are a modular platform already. You just add on to the existing phone (which is an optimized form factor containing all of the "essentials"). You can take an iPhone and stick on a bar code scanner, credit card reader, customize the appearance, customize the ruggedization. Heck, even military applications exist for turning the iPhone into a high end piece of communications equipment for the Army. You have bluetooth accessories like Fit bit, Pebble, etc that extend the functionality without any physical tethering.

Most of other applications you mention are really all able to be driven purely by software. For example remote start and diagnostics can all be done already - check out Torque or Viper Smart Start. My BMW includes it's own app and many other manufacturers do as well. Mercedes has gone as far as developing a Pebble app.

The beauty of bluetooth and software extensions is the amount of modifications to the phone is zero, and for everything else there's a USB port on the bottom for a good reason.

Re: Google's modular phone

Postby scrotum » November 4th, 2014, 4:45 pm

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Re: Google's modular phone

Postby yo » February 22nd, 2016, 3:08 pm

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Re: Google's modular phone

Postby sonofscrotum » May 23rd, 2016, 10:21 am


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Re: Google's modular phone

Postby Cyberdemon » May 23rd, 2016, 6:54 pm

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I'll chime in that my predictions 2 years ago remained correct - they went away from the "Everything modular" approach to a "smart phone with a bunch of USB connectors for accessories".

It's more logical than trying to interconnect the deeply complex inner workings, but makes it easier to enable things like a modular camera, sensors, or batteries like they've chosen to do.

It's still an interesting project, but people have already created smartphone platforms in less "modular" ways (see iPhone credit card readers, barcode scanners, snap on DSLR lenses, etc) so now it's really more about the packaging than the technology.

Re: Google's modular phone

Postby mo-i » May 24th, 2016, 5:31 am

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These concepts show the limitations of physical product design in a hurting way.

What Ray and Cyberdemon said stays true today. Is it expression of googles sheer financial power, that this was not cancled yet? I mean, interesting idea. I like it, but I doubt there is a mass market for it. Isn't ruggedness one of the sales factors in phones for the last years? How do you get those connections water tight and lasting? IF you want a better camera, why not build the necessary optical lense in, right now. The idea of adding "features" and adding to the bottom line even more has come to an end with cars, already. You sure can't replicate that marketing model with phones, today. Or can you?

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Re: Google's modular phone

Postby Coffee87 » May 24th, 2016, 6:46 am


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mo-i wrote:These concepts show the limitations of physical product design in a hurting way.

What Ray and Cyberdemon said stays true today. Is it expression of googles sheer financial power, that this was not cancled yet? I mean, interesting idea. I like it, but I doubt there is a mass market for it. Isn't ruggedness one of the sales factors in phones for the last years? How do you get those connections water tight and lasting? IF you want a better camera, why not build the necessary optical lense in, right now. The idea of adding "features" and adding to the bottom line even more has come to an end with cars, already. You sure can't replicate that marketing model with phones, today. Or can you?

mo-i


Actually with premium brand European cars, this option-adding business model works great.
New base model BMW 320i costs 35 000 €. However the average 320i actually bought (with "couple" options added) usually costs more between 50 000- 60 000 €.

This modular phone thing looks cool but probably doesn`t work in real market where consumers replace their phones every year.
It would be a good idea in a post-apocalyptic society though where resources are scarce and people are environmentally savy. :?

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