Report: Google acquires Modu's mobile patents

Modu, which is now defunct, made small mobile phones that could placed into cases to add more functionality to the respective platform.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
Modu phone with its "jackets" in the background. CNET Australia

Google is reportedly reinforcing its mobile patent portfolio.

The company has paid $4.9 million for the patents of now-defunct Israeli company Modu, according to an Israeli business newspaper called Calcalist.

The search giant hasn't confirmed the report. However, such patents could be useful as Google attempts to offer new ideas in the Android landscape.

Modu was founded in 2007 by Dov Moran. The company sold a Modu phone, which was designed to be tiny and lightweight and could be placed into separate "jackets," or cases, to expand its functionality.

On its own, the small Modu could perform only basic activities. But as CNET's Kent German pointed out in 2008 when he took the Modu for a spin, after the device was placed in a case, it boasted a "keyboard and a full set of navigation controls." The jacket also activated new capabilities, making the Modu phone a more useful mobile companion.

Though the idea was compelling, it didn't last long. In January, Modu announced it was in debt and was closing its operations the next month.

Google did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

(Via Boy Genius Report)