itchban / Blog

Photography, filmmaking, social media, travel & technology by @itchban

Google's Project Ara: The Lego Phone

The time has finally come, Project Ara's launch is imminent. Actually, by hardware and tech industry standards, it was lightning quick. The inception of this project only occurred over a year ago, through a viral concept video by Dave Hakkens (Phonebloks). Google's modular (Lego) phone has actually sped through the product development and iteration process faster than most others.

Project Ara, is Google's attempt to change the mobile phone game; by allowing customers full customisability. much like how the PC world works. You can pick and choose the individual components you want on your mobile phone and simply just slide them into the phones slots.

Project Ara Destined to Fail?

I am certain that this phone will not take the mobile phone market by storm and gobble up market share. Mobile phones have already reached a point of saturation and quality that there is just no substantial need for this in the mainstream mobile market.

Sure, a modular system has it's advantages; but have you ever dropped a Lego model before? Dropping your Ara will be sure to send modules flying in all directions.

Then you have to consider how fragmented and dysfunctional the Android OS & software experience is already. Thousands of different mobile handsets made by dozens of manufacturers makes it extremely difficult for software developers to create a cohesive and unified user experience. Project Ara will amplify this issue by infinitely complicating it right down to the individual components of the mobile device.

Ain't nobody got time fo' dat.

Project Ara Is Not A Mobile Phone

The mobile phone market is not where this project will find it's place. Sure, it could possibly make access to mobile phone's a lot cheaper (great for developing countries aka Puerto Rico) and hobbyist / product hackers alike will be sure to adopt this "phone", but I think it's true purpose lies elsewhere.

Project Ara's primary purpose as a product (by my predictions) will not be to serve as a mobile phone, but as a mobile computing device that will serve as a hub for other applications. It will enable product & hardware developers easy access to a strong and well established OS (Android). No longer will they have to build an entire hardware & product from the ground up. They can simply just build a single module and plug it into this "computing hub". This is probably why the US Military has shown such great interest in the project.

With this is mind, this project could potentially change the way products are created in the near future. I'm glad they fast tracked the project to get it into the hands of the public ASAP as this will require the participation of every level of stakeholder, if it is to ever find its true purpose(s).