Google to acquire Modu patents for $4.9 million

By on May 19, 2011 at 11:30 AM.

Google to acquire Modu patents for $4.9 million

Google was recently granted permission to purchase a patent portfolio previously held by Modu, a now defunct Israeli cell phone maker that couldn’t find a market for its minuscule mobile phones. Modu emerged in 2008 touting a peculiar modular cell phone that could be placed in a variety of sleeves to perform different functions. The unique phones, while certainly interesting, lacked mass appeal and were only picked up by a few carriers. Modu would later unveil several new tiny cell phone models as it prepared for an IPO, but the company would instead be forced to shutter its operations when it ran out of cash. Proceeds from Google’s $4.9 million IP purchase will be used to pay back Modu’s creditors and former Modu employees who are still due wages. Google is likely eyeing future Android functionality that might be made possible by its acquisition of Modu’s patent portfolio, though the company has not revealed any plans related to Modu’s former patents. More →

10 Comments

Employees fight for pay as Modu is forced to close its doors

By on January 12, 2011 at 6:44 PM.

Employees fight for pay as Modu is forced to close its doors

Modu Ltd., maker of some of the smallest cell phones in the world, will soon be forced to shut its doors according to a pair of reports from Israeli news site Ynet. The news follows reports from November of last year stating that the Israel-based company was forced to cancel a planned IPO and instead begin laying off most of its staff. It now appears as though modu will be forced to close in early February and until then, only a small sales team will remain in place to sell off remaining inventory. According to the report, modu currently owes $123 million to investors and another $21 million to the Israel Discount Bank. Modu may also owe a substantial sum to former employees, who today filed a liquidation request with Israeli courts in an effort to recoup salaries they are allegedly owed. Modu made a name for itself in 2008 when it announced a tiny modular cell phone that could take on new shapes and functions by sliding into various accessories. It would later announce two new devices — the modu T phone, the lightest touchscreen phone in the world, and a Wi-Fi-only VoIP phone called the modu W — but neither phone would become widely available. More →

12 Comments

Modu cancels IPO, braces for layoffs

By on November 18, 2010 at 2:00 PM.

Modu cancels IPO, braces for layoffs

From the brink of an IPO to the brink of mass layoffs, Modu appears to be in deep trouble. The Israel-based company, known for building very tiny, very quirky phones, has turned its back on a recent IPO attempt. According to Israeli financial paper Calcalist, there was simply no interest in the company. Instead, CEO Dov Moran said Modu would be forced to let go of most of its staff. “My heart hurts but [I] had no choice,” Moran told Calcalist. The company currently employs 130 people but only a few dozen will remain on board to sell the company’s current cell phone models. Moran did not state whether or not the company should release its recently-announced Modu W, a small Android-based device that uses Wi-Fi to make cheap VoIP calls rather than sending voice calls over cellular networks. More →

8 Comments

Modu to showcase production modular phone at MWC ’09

By on February 11, 2009 at 2:49 PM.

Modu to showcase production modular phone at MWC ’09

Modu had a pendulum-like year in 2008, showcasing with much fanfare a prototype of its modular phone at MWC 2008 only to reportedly lay off 25% of its staff in November. The phone has been plagued by launch delays and a lack of carrier interest in this novel design. Fear not Modu fans as Modu is back for MWC 2009, this time with a production model in hand.The Modu phone features a super small handset which can be slipped into several different jackets providing both fashion and additional functionality to the phone. Think of the old Compaq iPaq and its sleeves but a whole lot sexier and more versatile. The latest production version of the phone has been built to be sturdier with additional memory (2 GB) and a revamped UI. Four jackets will be available at launch and include:

  • Night jacket: night life design with edgy keypad, flashing lights, night mode imaging and a unique graphical user interface
  • Street-art jacket: vibrant and colorful with stereo speakers, dedicated music keys and a unique graphical user interface
  • Classic jacket: classic style mobile device with all essential communication features
  • Express jacket: transforms the phone into a colorful and playful mobile device

Other jackets, including a bicycle jacket, music jacket and photo frame jacket are expected to be available post-launch. Additional jackets will retail for $25 to $100 each. Dov Moran, founder of Modu, is hoping to release the Modu phone for $200 with two jackets included and is expected to deliver the Modu phone globally at the beginning of next quarter. Hit the jump for some press photos of the Modu phone and its four jackets.

More →

7 Comments