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Google's Project Ara Could Bring PC-Like Hardware Ecosystem To Phones 139

An anonymous reader writes "Now that Google's modular phone effort, Project Ara, looks a bit less like vaporware, people are starting to figure out its implications for the future of cellphones. One fascinating possibility is that it could transform the cellphone purchasing process into something resembling desktop computer purchasing. Enthusiasts could search out the individual parts they like the best and assemble them into cellphone Voltron. People who just want a decent phone with no hassle could look at pre-built offerings — and not just from Apple, Samsung, and the like. It could open up a whole new group of phone 'manufacturers.' Of course, this comes with drawbacks, too — if you think fragmentation is bad now, imagine trying to support thousands of different hardware combinations."
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Google's Project Ara Could Bring PC-Like Hardware Ecosystem To Phones

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  • by retech ( 1228598 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:29PM (#46820373)
    It'll be way too expensive to have a build your own phone. And it's not what the majority of consumers want. Apple has proven this time and time again. An unserviceable phone, an unserviceable tablet, and now unserviceable laptops. None of which have the simplest of battery swaps available (hell even the ram is soldered on board now in the MBPs). They've built the largest computer (mostly mobile) empire on hardware that is idiot proof and has no options. This is what consumers want. A build your own phone would be fun, but just not practical and way too expensive.

    I'll get slammed, I know. Fanbois unite and all that. Oddly enough I'm typing this on a 5yr old MBP that I will lament when it finally goes. I don't like ios and most likely will never upgrade since I do not like their new models. I know this one has been through a lot with me and performed flawlessly. I've done some hardware hacks and it's been fun.
  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @11:52PM (#46820425)

    I love how Apple has shown time and time again what the majority of customers want... except of course that the iPhone market share is a fraction what Android's is. And the mac market share is less than that of the much reviled Windows 8, not to mention about a fourth that of the no longer supported, 13 year old Windows XP. Apple doesn't know what the masses want, they know what a relatively small, though highly visible, affluent, influential group want.

  • by atari2600a ( 1892574 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @01:14AM (#46820677)
    It's not going to be LIKE the PC ecosystem; it IS the PC ecosystem, just with new players. 10 years from now your Replicators, laptops & server clusters are all going to be sporting Ara-derived chassis. You heard it here first, kids. Why deal with Intel & IBM's bullshit when you have a architecture-agnostic interface ready to go? A computer is the result of an accumulation of standards & as someone that's taken a decades-long generalistic approach to the industry, this IS the new standard. Maybe not in its initial public incarnation, but 2.0'll hit it of just like Android 2.0 took over mobile software.
  • by Camael ( 1048726 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @02:48AM (#46820961)

    It'll be way too expensive to have a build your own phone.

    Right now. Prices will go down assuming there is mass adoption. Remember than personal computers used to sell for 4 digit numbers in the past [].

    And it's not what the majority of consumers want.

    I don't agree. A lot of users seem to value customization and personalization. Just look at how huge is the market for phone casings, icon packs, wallpapers, custom ringtones...

    Apple has proven this time and time again... They've built the largest computer (mostly mobile) empire on hardware that is idiot proof and has no options. This is what consumers want.

    You do realise that Apple users are in no way, shape or form representative of the majority of phone users. According to this report from IDC which is the most current I could find, Android took 78.1% of the 4Q 2013 market share compared to iOS' 17.6% []. It seems safe to conclude that most if not all of these users chose to pick up Android phones over the iPhone precisely because they were dissatisfied with some aspect of Apple's product, i.e. it was not what they wanted.

    Also, one often cited reason for users switching from iPhone to Android is the lack of customisation options and/or lockdown of the devices and of the platform.

    I don't like ios and most likely will never upgrade since I do not like their new models.

    A somewhat ironic comment since your opinion is that Apple apparently knows what consumers want... with you being the exception?

  • by kyrsjo ( 2420192 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @02:57AM (#46820989)

    I suspect it's still pretty common to upgrade RAM and harddisk. Maybe many user's doesn't do it themselves, but ask their son / granddaughter / son-in-law / friendly neighbourhood geek why their computer is so slow - which often responds to upgrading the RAM. Similar when a HDD fails - you, or a friend, or the shop will repair it by swapping out the HDD.

    And most of these things are really easy in most of todays laptops - when my mother in law was complaining about exactly this, I ordered up the RAM it needed and showed her how to install it when it showed up in the mail. She managed just fine (one screw to open the cover, pop out the old board and click in the new. We did't bother with the board sitting below the keyboard).

    Similar when the HDD of my Dell Latitude failed - they sent me a new HDD in a box with a small paper slip instructing me to turn it off, remove battery and charger, undo the one screw holding the HDD and it's cover in place, slide out the old one, slide in the new one, and replace the cover + screw. Apparently Dell tought it to be easy enough for all their customers to manage.

  • so much negativity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by renzhi ( 2216300 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @03:20AM (#46821061)

    WTF? Where is the geek spirit in this /. crowd? When a manufacturer releases a phone with battery soldered, everyone's complaining. When a laptop manufacturer releases a laptop that you can't upgrade, complaining again. Now that people are putting effort to allow you to custom your mobile device till your heart bleeds, you are complaining again.

    I had enough of phones that I have to throw away because of one very small, and not even the most important, component went bad, and I can't do anything. And it's not worth repairing coz the repair cost is almost as high, or even higher, than buying a new phone. What a fucking waste of resources.

    Give me this modular design anyday. I've been waiting for someone to do this for laptop and mobile phone for a decade. Can't come soon enough.

    Just release the design, release the interface, make it so open that anyone on the planet can manufacture components without huge license cost, and let the market decide. I'm sure there will a lot of entrepreneurial folks who will set up shop to assemble this into a nice package for your customization. Just like the PC era. Bring it on. There will be a lot of new applications. Talk about wearables? Wait till you have all these components that you can assemble the way you like it.

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly. -- Donald Douglas