Google’s Project Ara is about more than just modular phones

Ara is going to be the first ever phone that Google is making itself (it has already made laptops and a tablet, among other things). And even though what I saw last week was just a prototype, it was working well enough that I believe Google can fulfill its promise to release a consumer product next year. Yes, we’ve seen Google kill off hardware before, but this is a high-profile launch from a newly independent division. It’s the first truly big swing from Google’s new hardware group under Rick Osterloh, and to back off now would be a colossal embarrassment.

Given all that, really the only questions that matter are simple: Is Google really making a phone? Will this plan to make it modular really work this time? Is this more than just an experiment?

Coming out of the meeting, had I shaken a Magic 8 ball, it would have said, “Signs point to yes.”

I want this to succeed – finally something new, beyond the square slab – but this is so radical in the smartphone (or feature phone and PDA before that) market that I honestly just don’t know if it’ll work out.

In any case, people are taking sides, but a this point in time, I think either option – “this will be a massive success” or “this is nonsense” – is equally shortsighted, and especially the latter not at all unlike this infamous quote.


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