Imagine a smartphone that can essentially be anything and everything to anyone and everyone. Seems impossible, right? Not for Google. Since 2013, Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) division has been working on a modular smartphone device called Project Ara.
Introducing Project Ara—The smartphone is one of the most empowering and intimate objects in our lives. Yet most of us have little say in how the device is made, what it does, and how it looks. And 5 billion of us don’t have one. What if you could make thoughtful choices about exactly what your phone does, and use it as a creative canvas to tell your own story?
The launch video demonstrates not only Ara’s aesthetic appeal, but also, how the modules work. At the core of the device is a magnetic endoskeleton. A software app allows the user to remove and replace modules like USB drives. The rest is up to you.
Being able to replace your battery while your phone is still running is a dream come true. Being able to replace your shattered phone screen on your own (without having to check your warranty status, send it to the manufacturer, wait forever for your phone and all its precious content to return back to your hands)? Well, that just leaves me speechless.
The key to this product (and possibly the future of marketing) is personalization. Consumers are the decision-makers—they get to choose what they want and how they want it to look. With my iPhone 5s, I only had 3 colors and 2 storage capabilities to choose from. The only form of customization was through what apps I chose to download. With Project Ara, the entire functionality of the phone is open to personal customization, including the module designs and 3D-printed covers that you can design online. Totally awesome.
Google recently announced its plans to do a market pilot launch in Puerto Rico before the end of 2015. This will serve as a testing ground for how the market and consumers will react to the introduction of a modular phone.
Do you think Project Ara has what it takes to go mainstream in America? With the right pricing and other marketing strategies, I believe that it does. Watch out Apple.