Where will Google Stop? They are already looking at slowing aging, driverless cars, bringing internet to the world, investing in green technology and now this … allowing people to customize their phone hardware! Talk about blue sky projects!
Motorola (now owned by Google) recently announced Project Ara which will allow manufacturers to customize your phone. Let’s say, you are someone who uses their phone largely as a camera (apart from using it as a phone of course), then you could ask for 40 megapixel camera and nothing else – no accelerators, no touch screen, or you could want a higher on board storage or maybe you just upgrade your RAM- you could specify what you want in your phone. This is the ultimate Do it Yourself project for Phones.
And of course, this is Google – so customizing will be available to everyone worldwide.
If you are in India, you are probably familiar with assembled PCs, where local hardware vendors would put together a motherboard, RAM, processor, HDD and so on to build a custom for you – this, is exactly like that. Our jugaad philosophy has already done this (I am so proud!!), albeit at a much much lower scale.
The way this is expected to work is that Motorola will drive building of hardware ‘modules’ – so imagine your phone comprising of a camera module, a RAM module, a processor module, keyboard module and so on. The aim is to build these modules and not the phone itself – one could then, theoretically, combine these modules in a single customized phone.
Now the key question is – how many people will actually use this service? Can you be bothered about the specs of your phone? How many people even know the hardware specs of their phone – maybe they will now?
There is a reason why I never bought an ‘assembled’ PC – to my mind, hardware has to be well integrated to deliver a great experience. It’s the reason why Apple devices work so well – they control both hardware and OS for their devices. In my experience, people typically buy a new phone because they want a ‘new’ phone – I don’t know of anybody who switches their phone because they want a higher RAM or faster accelerator. Also, with Chinese OEMs like Foxconn, hardware is no longer a differentiating factor – phone (at least smartphones) sales are now driven by Design, Apps, or simply, the ‘new shiny thing’factor. Can you image an HTC One or Apple 5S being built using ‘off-the-shelf’ modules?
So will Ara be successful? Only time will tell….
Here is another post from The Next Web if you are interested