Back in October, the modular Project Ara phone caused quite a stir. The concept of a modular phone which will allow users to upgrade different parts of the phone is certainly attractive. While it was more akin to a concept back then, it now seems that Motorola is actually putting some serious effort into the concept, possibly turning it into a reality sometime in the near future.
In a recent interview, Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside hinting that they’re close to completing an actual prototype of such as phone. Of course, a prototype isn’t a promise that a mass market version will be produced anytime soon, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Even though the concept itself is good, I do have some serious concerns if it’ll actually be popular. In the PC market, there are many PCs that are assembled by hobbyists, but the combination of readily available parts isn’t always something that most consumers are looking for. When discussing finesse, it’s pretty noticeable that integrated machines such as Apple’s Macs and well-designed PCs from manufacturers such as Dell have an edge over a PC assembled at home. There are pros and cons to either solution, but it remains to be seen if a modular phone will really catch on. On a personal level, I’m looking forward to actually being able to fiddle with a modular phone, so hopefully Motorola will be able to pull it off.
“There is a [Project Ara] prototype and it is pretty close,” Motorola’s CEO said. “The idea is you have a skeleton that holds together a set of components and the components slide in and out. If we have the interfaces and the protocols that enable the speaker to speak directly to the CPU then this would all be possible.”
Woodside said the biggest obstacle for Project Ara was making components universally work with each other. Since most components are made for a specific device and its design, making them interchangeable is a struggle. So Motorola is trying to make an open platform.