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Motorola's Ara imagines customizable smartphones with replaceable parts

Motorola's Ara concept would let you pick your smartphone's specs.

Motorola has announced what many hope will be the future of smartphones: its Project Ara would allow for user customization and replacement of individual parts. The open hardware platform would let you build your smartphone to suit your personal needs, and if you wanted an upgrade to improve speed or take better photos, you could just replace one part instead of the whole device. 

Since Motorola is now a Google company, it's not hard to make comparisons between Android's open platform and Ara. Instead of building all the modular smartphone parts itself, Motorola is encouraging third-party hardware manufacturers to develop modules for Ara in the same way that Google promotes development of apps for its Android mobile operating system.

From Motorola's official announcement:

Led by Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, Project Ara is developing a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.

Our goal is to drive a more thoughtful, expressive, and open relationship between users, developers, and their phones. To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs, and how long you’ll keep it.

Motorola's Ara was in development at the same time that Dutch designer Dave Hakkens was working on Phonebloks, another modular smartphone model. Hakkens' concept video posted on YouTube in September has received over 16 million views. Motorola says that it is working with the Phonebloks community as it develops Ara, so we can only hope that Ara will be as practical as the Phonebloks idea.

Watch the Phonebloks video here:


Total comments: 3

A compatibility nightmare, I would say.

One will constantly be precluded to get the module one really wants just because another, totally irrelevant little block will not work with it. Replacing THAT block will, in turn, force you to switch another one, which, in turn...You get the idea.

The cherry on top of this bitter, consumer-spanking cake would be the traditional "It's the other thing" reply one gets from any vendor when trying to get support for a non-functional item of theirs that just so unfortunately happens to work in tandem with something from another vendor.


So who took who's idea ?


I've seen a theory floating around that Phonebloks was basically designed as a viral campaign by Motorola. Phonebloks was listed on "Thunderclap" (which I think is like Kickstarter). The Thunderclap campaign ended at basically the same time as the Motorola press release.

Edited 31 seconds after posting
Total comments: 3
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