Motorola's dream of a slick, modular smartphone is struggling to take off. The base handset is perfectly capable, but the ecosystem of Moto Mods is still pretty sparse. After its launch accessories, we've seen a Hasselblad attachment and little else. To solve the problem, Motorola is teaming up with Verizon and Indiegogo for a new developer competition. The challenge is simple: Create the best Moto Mod out there. If the Moto team likes your work, you'll be invited to a hackathon and encouraged to set up a crowdfunding campaign. Finalists will pitch at Motorola's headquarters in Chicago for "a shot at funding" and distribution in Verizon stores.
Motorola has tried to jump-start the developer community before. The Moto Mods Development Kit (MDK) was launched in the US last summer, followed by China, Europe and South America in September, and Canada last month. The company needs these attachments to make the Moto Z stand out; without them, the phone is a rather forgettable Android flagship. A decent one, as Engadget's reviewer Chris Velazco found out, but not without its faults. The lack of a headphone jack is still frustrating (why Motorola, why) and the average battery life will disappoint power users.
There's potential in the Moto Mod idea, however. It's still one of the simplest and cleanest executions (sorry, LG) of the modular smartphone idea to date. Motorola's window is closing though -- the phone is starting to age, and soon its spec sheet will feel outdated. If the company wants the device to succeed, it needs compelling Moto Mods, and fast. Otherwise, it might as well give in and turn its attention to next year's flagship.