Although Project Ara never saw the light of day, Motorola’s Moto Mod initiative has actually resulted in quite a few successful products. Motorola’s promise of three generations of support for Moto Mods means that even this year’s Moto Z3 Play and Verizon Moto Z3 support Moto Mods. We’ve seen Motorola announce a Gamepad Mod, Wireless Charging Mod, a Smart Speaker mod with Amazon Alexa support, and more. Unfortunately, one mod that was announced at CES this year won’t be released: The Livermorium Slider Keyboard Mod. The keyboard mod would have attached to any Moto Mod-compatible phone (any Moto Z device), equipping it with a dedicated sliding keyboard. The product’s Indiegogo page was updated today announcing the cancellation of the product.
Video showing a pre-production sample of the Livermorium Keyboard Mod on the Moto Z
Why the Keyboard Mod was canceled
The company went into detail regarding why they decided to cancel the mod. To summarize:
- There was no commercial interest from official retailers. Moto Z smartphones have a low market share in most places, hence, it would be difficult to find third-party retailers to sell the mod as an accessory.
- The company did not receive any funding apart from Indiegogo, which left them little money after product development, molding, and sampling.
- The company can only afford to produce 3,000 units. This poses a problem when needing to order components. For example, the distributor of an uncommon component required them to order a minimum of 14,000 pieces from the factory because the part wasn’t in stock.
- The Keyboard Mod used lots of unique components that couldn’t be substituted. The lead time on sourcing some of these parts was months. The battery controller they used last year was discontinued, and the newer controller requires a change on the PCB which already started production.
- There’s a high cost of assembly and quality assurance per device.
- Changing the layout would require approval from Motorola.
- They were still working on solving the thickness and weight issues with the product.
The company placed a components order in July and planned on releasing the Keyboard Mod by October, but they decided to cancel as a result of all these challenges.
However, the team has also announced that they will be concentrating all their efforts on “a High-end and Premium Landscape Slider Smartphone” code-named the “Q-device.” According to the company, the Q-device will be slimmer, lighter, more premium, and more powerful than any currently released Moto Z device with the Keyboard Mod combination. The company states that the Q-device will not have issues with opening the keyboard to use the rear-facing camera, will use a scattered layout, and will support other keyboard layouts like QWERTZ or Scandic. Lastly, the company states that the Q-device will be available for purchase by Q4 of this year and will not be crowdfunded like the Keyboard Mod.
You can read more on the Indiegogo page as well as find details on how to refund or support the Q-device project. One of the few devices that were actually shipped was recently sold for over $1,000, so there was definitely some demand for this product.
Thanks mccreary from the LineageOS team for the tip!