Google’s Modular Smartphone and Chinese Innovation

One of the reasons that the IOS platform has been successful is the App Store. It’s easy for developers to write code because there’s one platform to target. Android has always struggled with fragmentation. One of the reasons Jawbone didn’t put a radio into their bracelet was because the challenge of getting the code to work across differing Android phones. If the basic functionality of the handset is now also an unknown (because it is modular) this is going to add a new challenge. Time for some innovation.

I thought the quote at the end of the article about how Google wanted to seed lots of companies to innovate in the handset space was interesting. This has been happening in China for a while already. It started with small so-called Bandit companies bolting together a simple handset in 3 months from zero.

This has now got to the stage where they are building good China-only smartphones. You can do this from zero in a similar timescale with someone like Pegatron for less than $100K…

An interesting company is Xiao Mi:

They have done crowd-funded smart phones. The user base is asked what functionality they want in the phone and to pre-order. When the order book is full, Xiao Mi goes to production. So, they sell their handsets before they make anything. And it’s mass-customization. Business model innovation. And the phones are NOT low end. 4 core 1.5GHz Snapdragon. Qualcomm Ventures is an investor. This is where Hugo Barra has gone.

Note also Mediatek last week announcing their Astor wearable chip. They are launching it in China first because they see 1000’s of companies there who will innovate with it…

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