Dave Hakkens announced Phonebloks back in 2013, as a way to cut down on electronic waste. His concept was of an entirely modular smartphone, the components of which could be easily swapped in and out to upgrade, instead of replacing the entire phone. Soon after, Motorola revealed that they’d been working on something similar, that they called Project Ara. The Phonebloks crew worked with them and a few other companies to make this a reality faster, but now, it appears Mr. Hakkens isn’t too happy with Project Ara’s latest update.
We saw a pretty neat update to the core design of Project Ara at Google I/O 2016. The Ara phone now has a core skeleton which contains the most important components such as the processor, the antennas, the sensors, the battery, and the display. The only modular components are things like cameras, speakers, and add on sensors. Dave Hakkens argues that this defeats the modularity of the phone, as the core components can no longer be easily upgraded.
He also claims to be a fan of the refreshed design, but he also feels that a stripped down design will be better in the long run. He is worried that at some point, the design will get in the way of functionality.
Now it looks more like the original Phonebloks design, personally I love that. But simplifying it also has an advantage for the lifespan of it. They got rid of the ‘pebble look’ and made it very basic, stripped it down to the essentials. I believe this is a key thing when you want to make something that lasts, make sure the design won’t be in the way after a while.
Another concern Dave Hakkens has is that much of Project Ara is still under Google’s control. While he credits them with having accomplished the most in the modular smartphone segment, he is also worried that ultimately, a lot of decisions are being taken by Google for the “phone for the entire world.”
Everything happens under the umbrella of Google. They are in charge, they make the rules. They can decided to suddenly change the connectors, or design. Making all previous modules you have obsolete. It’s a powerful ecosystem which shouldn’t be in the hands of one organisation.
What do you think of the concerns he has regarding Project Ara? Do you feel, like Dave Hakkens, that the reduced modularity in the latest version is a bad thing? Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook![button link=”https://davehakkens.nl/news/re-think-project-ara/” icon=”fa-external-link” side=”left” target=”blank” color=”285b5e” textcolor=”ffffff”]Source: Dave Hakkens[/button]