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Google Cellphones Handhelds Hardware

Project Ara: Inside Google's Modular Smartphones 70

harrymcc writes "Google is releasing more details on Project Ara, its effort — originally spearheaded by Motorola — to reinvent the smartphone in a form made up of hot-swappable modules that consumers can configure as they choose, then upgrade later as new technologies emerge. Google is aiming to release about a year from now."
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Project Ara: Inside Google's Modular Smartphones

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  • Re: Hot-swappable? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @09:07PM (#46353191)

    Hold on, I need to plug-in the satlink.

    Sorry, satlink module disabled: please reattach Google Ads module.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @09:20PM (#46353291) Homepage Journal

    How much do you want to bet they end up like most "upgradeable" PCs -- never touched from day of purchase until they hit the landfill or the recycling company.

  • by The Rizz ( 1319 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @09:53PM (#46353569)

    R & D costs on a mass market phone are relatively easy to recapture with millions of identical units sold, and as fascinating as these are, I suspect their dissimilarity will lead to higher consumer cost.

    You're missing the point; the idea here is to make the components mass marketed, rather than have it be the entire phone. Right now if you buy a phone from Apple, you get an Apple camera built into the Apple circuit board. The idea here is that Nikon mass-markets the cameras, and you plug it into your Motorola processor with a Lenovo battery and a Linksys broadband module. Don't like those brands? Pick whoever you want, in what combination you want. There will be pre-configured package deals, yes. But the fact that you can swap them out afterwards is the idea.

    The point is that while the base phone may cost more, the modules will be cheaper (due to competition), and you can choose what quality level you want on each. And, instead if having to throw away your whole phone to replace/upgrade the camera/processor/antenna/whatever, you just buy the new module and the rest of your phone stays the same. So, more up-front cost, but less long-term cost.

  • by FatLittleMonkey ( 1341387 ) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @06:01AM (#46355479)

    However, the industry itself only really exists because of that modularity. Small vendors being able to assemble niche systems from modular components, without having to do high-end electrical engineering and manufacturing.

    Modular "phones" won't be modified by more than a fraction of the most nerdish end-users, but they will be a boon to other device makers. Companies are already using cellphone and tablet parts as cheap, standardised, easy-to-design-for control systems and/or displays for their products. Likewise, companies are making niche products that plug into a standard cellphone, rather than require their own computer/display/battery/etc.

    With modularity, that ability increases exponentially.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger