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So What Is "Modular"?

June 15, 2016

So What Is "Modular"?

 Author's note: Here's an article that, while not your classic organization-DIY blogpost material, is making ripples in the world at every level. We at The Module felt the concept of "Modular" could use some simplification. After that, it's back to your regular DIY-Organizational programming, promise. 

Modular is in, & it's everywhere. 

Check these 2016 news blurbs: 

  • Google's Modular PhoneGoogle's Project Ara Modular Smartphone Is Finally Being Released (5/31/16)
  • The Modular PC: Asus’ Avalon Brings The Modular PC Dream Closer To Reality (6/3/16)
  • The Modular Bio PrinterMIT Researchers Develop xPrint, An Open-Source Modular Bio And Smart Material Ready Printer (6/2/16)
  • Modular Robot Animals: Build Modular Animal Robots With The Animech Project (6/1/16)

The massive push of the planet's top research & development brass to modularize every industry begs the question: What's so good about Modular

Modular Defined

Merriam Webster's dictionary cites:

1:  of, relating to, or based on a module or a modulus

2:  constructed with standardized units or dimensions for flexibility and variety in use <modular furniture>

So Modular means something made of standardized units, or modules. And it grants an added flexibility. So far so good. 

Let's take an example. Google's new Modular smartphone, Ara: 

Megan Treacy of Treehugger.com explains: 

"The Android-powered phone will have a skeleton that houses all of the basic phone functions, including CPU, GPU, antennas, sensors, battery and display and then users can get creative with the modules they snap on and off. There is space on the phone for six regular size modules or 2 double-sized modules and 2 regular ones. The modules will include things like cameras, speakers, sensors and more."

Innovating An Industry

Going Modular is clearly a big-time business play. In the case of the Google Ara, introducing a phone that essentially stays relevant forever is a game changer- "...basically an eternally improvable phone." The financial implications, as well as the mark a properly executed move like this could make on the massive smartphone industry- enormous.  

What practical lessons can smaller players in more niche industries take out of the new widespread modular phenomenon? 

Modular In Theory

Bringing modular home to your personal business is every bit as achievable & lucrative as ever. 

When you break it down, the benefits of "Modular" emerge when you achieve 3 characteristics:

  1. Research: In standardizing an industry, isolating the critical pillar products of the industry under scrutiny is perhaps the most tedious, important (and rewarding!) aspect of a modular production
  2. Production: Focusing full production power solely around the core product identified, thereby enabling significantly down-driven production costs by manufacturing in mass
  3. Distribution: Simplicity in packaging & components, therein allowing for streamlined shipping & logistics = wider margins 

Lining up with these operating principals provides a business recipe for wider profit margins, tighter logistics & most importantly, an empowered consumer. 

The Empowered Consumer 

The barometer for innovating companies success is in the the empowered consumer. Products are tools with which customers can then do & accomplish things. The real achievement in modular production is essentially relinquishing control over your product & giving it over to you customers. Educating them & then letting go. 

Case Study: Modular Closets

Modular Closets

By standardizing the “custom closet” at a product level, Modular Closets' goal was to empower the custom closet seeker who loves DIY with the necessary tools & support. In practice, the best success we’ve seen is in the passionate, informed customer who takes our closet modules & creates. Creates closet brilliance. Creates a world of organizing possibility. Creates a low cost custom dream. Happy, empowered consumer. 


Modular may sound intimidating, but it is in fact the highest form of customer empowerment & business savvy a company can aim for. 

Article Update: Now Facebook seems to be jumping on the "Modular" bandwagon as well - or creating the bandwagon, we should say. 

https://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-google-project-ara/ 

The ever elusive Modular phone hunt rages on as the proverbial gold rush continues. 





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