When Google bought Motorola most industry experts have never been truly able to explain “why” it did so. Was it for Motorola’s patents which could be valuable against an Apple? Was it as leverage against Samsung who were more or less dominating the Android based phone market? Was it that Google now wanted to become like Apple and make their own phones?
Google’s wisdom has been questioned for a while regarding Motorola, as over the last couple of years – Motorola has eating millions out of Google’s profits. But it seems Google had a plan for Motorola all this while.
A day ago, they announced “Project Ara” for Motorola. Project Ara is basically making a phone last longer but making them modular. So basically the idea is the phone will come apart in several modules and one could just change the screen if it was smashed or opt for a bigger battery instead of a better camera.
So what is the vision of Project Ara?
The vision is to replicate Android’s open source nature into hardware. As in Project Ara is supposed to become a free and open hardware platform. Here are some images of the early designs with Project Ara.
Note the Moto X lock-screen notifications icon on these devices. The phones looks like a jigsaw puzzle full of modules and that is what it is supposed to be. It will contain a endoskeleton (endo) and modules. The endo-skeleton will basically keep the modules in place as a framework.
Some of you might be aware of a concept called Phonebloks. The concept is similar to “Project Ara” and also promises freedom of customization and choice for users. The problem with Phonebloks was that the design it was suggesting looked “scientifically dodgy” but the idea of users modular built block by block is not really news. But Google is working with Phonebloks creator Dave Hakkens to tap into its community.
Google expects to roll-out a alpha versions of Module Developers Kit (MDK) over the next 4-5 months.
In 2007, Modu an Israeli company also came out with the idea of selling modular phones. The company went bust in 2011 and surely enough in May 2011 Google stepped in and bought many of their patents on modular technology. This means Google has been thing on these lines almost since the time they acquired Motorola.
Here is a nice video from Phonebloks that explains the concept of modular phones.
Will Google succeed? That is a entirely different question but if it does, the hegemony of phone manufacturers with deep pockets will be shaken in a big way.
What are your views on modular phones? Do you think they will work? Do drop in your comments.
Link: Motorola blog