[Disclaimer: All of this is assuming IF modular design takes off.]
If you’ve read the Part 1 of this article series, then you’ve read about the conundrum: If smartphones have everything, then what’s the use of modularity? Ask that question to the CEO of any company going into modularity, and you’ll have the honor seeing a panic attack right before your eyes. The truth is, there’s no positive answer to that question just yet. There is little to no use for modularity, or rather, little to no use that’s been discovered thus far. The fate of modularity is anyone’s guess at this point, but one possibility seems like something straight out of Macbeth; OEM’s could sit, fingers crossed, waiting to see if modularity takes off, or take matters into their own hands- and that could potentially mean sabotage!
Let’s say you have a great phone with great specs and all the bells and whistles that a tech enthusiast could ever want; what would be the use of modularity? There would be none. Now let’s say that you have another phone, it’s good, but you feel that there could be just a bit more. You don’t you think about it until you see the OEM showcasing a module that adds just that bit of extra functionality that’ll make your experience feel complete. That’s the point where modularity picks up a little bit of usefulness. It’s the possibility of that phone being improved on a deep level that adds value to modularity. Over time, as modularity settles more into the minds of consumers, it’ll start to become a norm, just a reality of smartphone technology. This means that the notion of buying separate devices that add functionality to a phones will become less and less absurd, and OEM’s can take advantage of this by plucking more and more functionality out of their phones. They won’t start producing trash of course, but where there’s a sub par camera, an obsolete port, or the potential for something premium that’s just not there, there’s a module for it. The quality and refinement that goes into making a phone a masterpiece of craftsmanship and engineering, will go into making quality and well construed modules. This will leave the phones themselves feeling hollow to say the least.
This has its obvious monetary benefits for the companies, but it comes down to a matter of ethics; would you have the same respect for a company that intentionally sabotages its own product merely to accent its modularity? Respect means a lot when it comes to techies, and if this sabotage does happen, it’ll mean some major controversy in the tech world. While this is only speculation at this point, it shows one possible avenue that modularity can take the tech world, let’s just hope those of us who are along for the ride like where it’s leading.