Modu, an Israeli mobile phone start-up, has tipped its hand, showing off a tiny phone that slide into "jackets" and "mates" to change the look or extend the functionality of the phone.
Think of the main Modu handset as a tiny phone with some flash memory, able to store your personal information and provide basic cellular connectivity. Throughout the day you'd drop the handset into other devices like cameras, MP3 players, navigation systems, or laptops.
The primary problem is obvious: would you want to buy all new Modu-compatible gear? And would you want that gear to be limited in part by the size of the Modu phone itself? What if you wanted to use two gadgets at once?
There's something inherently futuristic-feeling about snapping central control modules into various bits of electronics, but it's not very actually futuristic. We're on the cusp of the era of ubiquitous, always-on wireless connectivity to the internet for every single device. Once a device can get online, why would I need to use a physical bit of memory to carry my data around?
Modu hasn't released much in the way of specifics yet, nor will they until later this year, so we'll just have to hang back and see how it works itself out. Any concept that relies on other hardware manufacturers to produce compatible gear usually has a rough row to hoe.