Google's Motorola Mobility division and 3D Systems, a maker of 3D printing technology, on Friday said they had entered into a multiyear deal to create a platform for designing and distributing components for Motorola's Project Ara. Project Ara represents Motorola Mobility's attempt to bring the relative openness and extensibility of Android software to hardware. It aspires to be "a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones."
|Project Ara aims for Lego-style durable mobile phone|
There are however some principal problems with this idea.
First of all, the level of customization will be limited by the common design of the phone. While users of traditional phones will have wide choice of phones e.g. in different design and sizes, users of project Ara phone will have just “onesquare shape size that fits all”. This is in direct contrast to the original idea of customizability.
Second, the level of customizability will be limited by the number of parts available on the market (and number vendors that sign to this idea). Users of traditional phones will have the option to select e.g. phones with extremely high-resolution cameras (like those from Nokia), while most definitely not all these components will not available in the form of Ara phone components (for example, Nokia will very unlikely support the platform endorsed by its direct competitor).
And third, also the durability of such a phone is in question. If the market with Ara components will not take off, users will be very likely forced to abandon their Ara phone puzzle in exchange for newer and more advanced technology.
And last but not least. These components are supposed to be designed and produced by phone manufacturers. But these companies have indeed no reason at all to support a product which, if successful, will decrease their market by two thirds.
Custom printed circuits will not change a bit on these reasons, not to say that the biggest problem is not to print customized circuits, but to design them.
In summary, Ara phone is an interesting idea which will however never take off.