Project Ara: An unfortunate ending

project ara blocks

Alas, Project Ara has died. A personal favourite, Project Ara began as a Kickstarter project. The design screamed Lego and the idea was sensible and downright sexy. Eyeing the potential, Google bought it and over the past few years they had been working on the idea. As we head towards MWC 2017, we look at the biggest let down of 2016 (after the Note7 perhaps).

What was Project Ara?

The customization options were endless. You could choose between improved cameras and extra battery cells. Want some different screens or integrated home technology? To the Ara it wouldn’t have been a problem. The knock-on effects would have been a reduction in electronic waste by swapping out broken parts and easy upgrades to things like the processor. Just imagine how easy to overcome the Note7 debacle would have been if you could just lob out the battery.

What went wrong

It really is a crying shame that the project got shelved but Google changed the design spec earlier this year. Project Ara was to become a much more limited platform. The CPU, GPU, sensors, battery, and display were all locked down — so it became just a phone a normal phone with one or two bits moving part. Pointless, unless Google wanted to kill Project Ara as it was potentially going to affect the launch of the Pixel.
Image result for project araThe original design and concept was one of sheer intrigue. One major question remained – how would such a concept sell? Markets may not have been ready for such a massive change. Look there were always going to be problems, but we would have loved to see this beauty hit the shelves.
The ultimate problem is nicely summed up in the LG G5. LG put a module slot on the G5 but it was so different, no one made modules for it. Suddenly, a fantastic innovation was completely redundant. How would Google turn a profit from Project Ara? It’s likely they were looking at LG from afar and realised they wouldn’t. Of several problems Google struggled to solve, one was power consumption from unusual combinations of modules. Google reportedly struggled to solve these kinds of problems, but the Ara was getting more expensive by the development.
Unfortunately, when everything was said and done, Google simply couldn’t justify Project Ara. Hopefully, someone else picks it up in a licensing agreement because it would be a shame to not see this make it. But with Google’s efforts having failed, few companies may be willing to take it on. At least we have the Pixel to enjoy.
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Junior Editor and host of the Goosed Podcast, Jon is passionate about phones, design and everything tech. Having joined the team in 2015 he now leads the entire Goosed podcast channel. Ask him about 3D printing or Disney movies. Read more by Jon.

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