Motorola’s making a big splash with the launch of Project Ara, an ambitious, open source hardware initiative that allows consumers to customize their entire phone, down to the specific components and display.
Ara’s modular approach to phone design centers around an endoskeleton, or “endo,” that is the core frame holding the other components together. Consumers will be able to swap modules in and out however they like: an old processor ditched for a snappy new one; a large display excised for a smaller screen with a physical keyboard; an additional battery in place of a camera. They’ll also have the option of toying with the aesthetics through different-colored modules.
“We know there are a number of folks who like to tinker with their devices,” Ramon Lamas, research manager of mobile phones at IDC, told TechNewsWorld. “I think there’s going to be some interest out there, but you’re talking to a very select segment of the market as opposed to the mass market.”
Open Source Hardware Ecosystem
Motorola, which is a subsidiary of Google, thinks of Ara as Android for hardware. It plans to facilitate a thriving third-party ecosystem with developers and reduce time to market while ramping up the pace of innovation. It expects to release an alpha version of a Module Developer’s Kit this winter.
It’s not yet clear whether developers will flock to Ara — Motorola hasn’t hinted at much direct incentive beyond the suggestion of prizes or, perhaps more enticingly, the opportunity for a hardware developer to make a name for itself on a new platform.
“Based on my initial impressions, I think there’s going to be enough people with enough expertise to pull their resources together and create the pieces of the puzzle,” telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan told TechNewsWorld. “Whether it’s going to be successful or not is the question.”
Motorola has teamed up with Dave Hakkens, designer of the Phonebloks concept. His vision was for a modular, open source phone that consumers could customize however they liked, which dovetailed neatly with Motorola’s vision for Ara, which it had been working on for more than a year…More