Motorola's latest Moto Z flagship phones are modular, designed to accommodate add-on modules that snap to the back of their cases for extra battery life, more complex camera modules, pico projectors, et cetera. Critical and consumer response to the change has been mixed, as it was for LG's modular G5 designs. But in a recent meeting with technology journalists, the Lenovo subsidiary doubled down on the modular approach. Motorola committed to at least 12 new Moto Mod add-on products per 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. That includes licensed designs from third parties, which are already available from partners like Hasselblad and JBL. If that's not enough, Motorola has an upcoming partnership with crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to solicit ideas and offer free Moto Z phones and Moto Mod developer kits to enterprising engineers.
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.
Motorola's commitment to the modular platform stands in relief to LG, which abandoned its modular design for the mid-cycle V20 phone. The modular approach isn't necessarily a bad one - interchangeable lenses and equipment have made the dSLR and mirrorless camera segments boom, for example. But Motorola and Lenovo will 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.