Motorola X: Is Google prepping world’s first customizable phone?

News Richard Goodwin 12:06, 21 Mar 2013

Will the Motorola X be the world’s first customisable smartphone?

Motorola exec Guy Kawasaki wants smartphones to be more like Porsche’s Exclusive package where customers can fine-tune every nook and cranny of their car, tailoring it to their exact requirements. 

In a Google+ post, Kawasaki linked to a YouTube video demonstrating Porsche Exclusive and added: ‘wouldn't it be great if you could personalize your phone like this?’ 

Kawasaki’s comments have lead to speculation that Google is looking to introduce the world’s first customisable smartphone.

Picking and choosing the spec and hardware of your handset before purchase would be brilliant, and is something we touched on last year when we spoke with Adam King, system technical PR at Asus, about the idea of creating a fully customisable smartphone.

You can build your own car and PC, so why not your own smartphone?

King explained part of the problem is to do with the handset variation you create in offering such diverse consumer choice. The overarching point, and where the entire idea of customised phones falls down, is the restriction of form factor.

‘Smartphones and tablets are much more complicated because of the form factor being based around a system-on-chip. Everything is soldered to the chip,’ he added, ‘so you can’t take things out of their slots as you can on a motherboard.’

Then there’s the issue of custom building millions of handsets to order – it’d be a logistical nightmare of epic proportions. Smartphones are cheaper than £100K sports cars so demand for such a service would of course be higher, and that would require highly advanced CRM systems and manufacturing processes.

What’s more likely, if such a scenario ever did occur, is offering consumers the ability to choose the colour, processor type, and amount of storage inside their handsets. Smartphone hardware isn’t built to be modular.

But given the propensity for consumers to always go with the highest common denominator when it comes to smartphones such a system would invariably lead to waste.

‘You’ll inevitably end up with surplus stock of certain models and this would have to be compensated for in the price of handsets – a cost passed on to the consumer,’ said King.

How would Google organise such a thing? Could it organise such a thing? The way Google handled the Nexus 4 launch doesn’t inspire confidence, but perhaps with Motorola it could come up with a viable solution or work around?

We’re dubious – very dubious given the barriers to adopting such a service. But it’s a very interesting idea all the same. 

What'd be inside your custom smartphone?

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