After the LG G5‘s lackluster reception and Google scrapping Project Ara, Motorola’s Moto Z line seems to be the last hope for modular phones and Motorola is betting big on Moto Mods and the company seems committed to their vision of the modular smartphone. In fact, Lenovo’s Moto execs told a small group of journalists this week, the company itself will commit to releasing at least 12 new Moto Mods a year.
That’s according to a report from Cnet, which says that Lenovo’s Moto Mods director John Touvannas specifically wants to release more modular accessories in 2017 than the company has this year.
More specifically the company is aiming for four new ones per quarter and we’ve already seen multiple concepts from Motorola, such as a secondary display or more powerful cameras.
The company says one of the things they’re exploring is a module that adds 5G data connectivity to the phone. Realistically, this could be a bit of ways away as carriers have yet to launch 5G in any meaningful way (though very meaningful tests are still underway). We also can’t be sure of the feasibility of such a proposal, but it’s something Motorola seems keen on figuring out.
Touvannas also mentioned ideas such as a secondary E-ink display, or even a baby monitor (likely part of that e-ink idea). He didn’t necessarily say that these products on are on the way, but he made sure to point out that “Without having to wait for the next-gen phone that can bring the next technology or capability, we can get to that quicker through the mod.”
The next natural question is, how much interconnectivity will these mods have? After all, Motorola’s flagship product is due for renewal in the fall of 2017, so any modular add-ons released after that point won’t necessarily have today’s phones in mind. For an answer to that question, we’ll have to reach back to the initial Moto Mod announcement. Motorola’s blog post says that “Moto Mods developed today are designed to work with future generations of Moto Z phones.” That implies (but doesn’t guarantee) that newer Mods should work with current Moto Z phones for the immediate future, though they may need a software update to enable that functionality.
During the press gathering, Moto talked Moto Mods stats that you might find interesting. According to their numbers, half of Moto Z owners are using Mods, with about 20% using the big dogs, like the Insta-Share Projector and Hasselblad True Zoom camera. And apparently, people are buying the phones because of Mods and then actually using those Mods.
The modular approach isn’t necessarily a bad one – interchangeable lenses and equipment have made the dSLR and mirrorless camera segments boom, for example. Motorola has a lot of potential with the Moto Z and their Mods, but first it’s going to have to make it easier to let people get their hands on them. That will mean breaking the Verizon exclusivity in the US. Motorola and Lenovo will also have to improve their core designs, lower prices, or offer more compelling modular hardware if they want to ensure consumers come along for the ride.
Do you have a Moto Z or sibling? Do you use Moto Mods?