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Start-Up Vsenn Emerges From Stealth With Project Ara Modular Phone Competitor 30

MojoKid writes When Phonebloks visionary Dave Hakkens began evangelizing the idea of a modular phone with interchangeable components, many scoffed at the idea saying it couldn't be done or wasn't commercially feasible, that is until Google stepped up and backed a team of engineers for Project Ara. Ultimately, Project Ara's proof of concept efforts bore fruit and the vision is quickly becoming reality, now with apparently new competitors entering the fray. A start-up company by the name of Vsenn has come out of cover to disclose its intention to start a "smartphone evolution" and it also turns out that company has been co-founded by a former Nokia Android X Program Manager. The company also makes some lofty promises and has set big goals, noting not only modular hardware design but "guaranteed updates, maximum security and customizable looks." From encryption to secure VPN cloud services and back covers that are easily changed out, Vsenn seems to be targeting not only "Phonebloks-style" modularity and customizations like Project Ara but also some of the secure device and communication hot buttons that both Apple and Google have been acting on as of late with iOS and Android Lollipop.
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Start-Up Vsenn Emerges From Stealth With Project Ara Modular Phone Competitor

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  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Saturday November 08, 2014 @06:11AM (#48339597) Homepage

    The entire argument in favor of modular phones is highly questionable IMHO. I see little evidence that this will represent a cost savings for consumers, that modular phones offer any serious advantages -- or that this is even something consumers want. It is also highly likely that modular phones will be larger, as modularity implies a component system that is by-definition less space-efficient than factory assembled.

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday November 08, 2014 @06:36AM (#48339665) Journal
      I can see some advantages, especially if it'll be easy for 3rd parties to develop modules for this thing. Currently, if your phone doesn't support NFC payments, doesn't have good fingerprint scanner, or is missing some other feature, you're stuck. Other phones will have these features but will be missing others. In this design you can customize and add what you want; addition, you might want some features only some of the time. Don't need a camera today? Swap it for a battery. There might be a market for niche applications as well: a credit card scanner for handheld POS applications, a custom NFC module for ID or building access, a Zwave/Zigbee module for home automation, a glucose reader for diabetics, a Braille module, etc.

      The real question is: will these advantages outweigh the disadvantages that you mentioned? I think it will, but only for a small group of people. I never said this couldn't be done but I have my doubts about this being commercially viable, and Google getting in on the game hasn't convinced me otherwise.
    • Main advantage: I want a phone with everything... Best camera, biggest storage best screen. Right now, that cost's me bout $1000 in my country before the reverse subsidizations kick in. I say reverse, because in my country, buying a phone on plan costs more over time than buying the phone outright upfront for the more expensive phones, taking into account the costs of the plan without any phone. That's a BIG layout where I'm from, but if I can buy those components over time and upgrade according to my own p
      • by pepty ( 1976012 )
        As AC pointed out, the same components offered in a modular setup will be more expensive, but not just in terms of space. To keep the same profit margins all of the modules will have to be marked up significantly compared to what you would pay for them all packaged together. If third parties are also selling modules, then the entire profit margin has to come from the frame.
    • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Saturday November 08, 2014 @09:39AM (#48339991)

      The entire argument in favor of modular phones is highly questionable IMHO. I see little evidence that this will represent a cost savings for consumers, that modular phones offer any serious advantages -- or that this is even something consumers want. It is also highly likely that modular phones will be larger, as modularity implies a component system that is by-definition less space-efficient than factory assembled.

      It's not to make them cheaper. Though, being able to put your high dollar investment in the camera, for example, and not the CPU, would have it's advantages. What this is really for is those of us that like to tinker around with this sort of thing. Personally, I'm constantly swapping out components on my PC. That said, this entire situation could fail miserably if they can't agree on a standard. If you can't use company X's camera on company Z's phone frame, this entire premise is dead in the water.

    • Not necessarily. Laptops have DVD 'slots' which are pretty compact which you can swap for something else (hard drive for instance). Phones could have a smilar system. With the right connect, a CPU module (likely has more than just a CPU onboard) could be swapped. We already have swappable SD cards & batteries. Extending this wouldn't suffer that much. Better is you can customize the HW to be what you actually need like replacing the camera with some other component.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      The entire argument in favor of modular phones is highly questionable IMHO. I see little evidence that this will represent a cost savings for consumers, that modular phones offer any serious advantages -- or that this is even something consumers want. It is also highly likely that modular phones will be larger, as modularity implies a component system that is by-definition less space-efficient than factory assembled.

      In the beginning, maybe there's a demand, but in the end, not really.

      Because we DO have an e

  • Computer Kit to AIO, AIO Phones to Phone Kits is just another example of the big circle of the tech industry .
  • Really? Lego meets Nokia, that's a concept looking for a problem to solve.

    Maybe GOOG can embrace and extend beyond backcover hubcap thinking

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

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