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Project Ara, Now Less Ambitious, Still a Dumb Idea

Remember Project Ara, Google’s modular phone project? Headline of David Pierce’s piece for Wired: “Project Ara Lives: Google’s Modular Phone Is Ready for You Now”.

After years of failed demos, public sputters, and worrisome silence, Ara works. About 30 people within ATAP are using Ara as their primary phone. Camargo actually has the luxury of worrying about things like aesthetics, rather than whether it’ll turn on. “Please pay no attention to how it looks,” he tells me, flipping the blocky smartphone over in his hands, “because it’s a prototype.” It’s not a concept, not an idea, not a YouTube video. It’s a prototype. Developer kits for Ara will be shipping later this year, and a consumer version is coming in 2017.

In what universe does this qualify as “ready for us now”? It’s not ready at all, and nothing in this story makes it sound like a good idea. It’s nonsense.

Update: I’ve been asked why I think Ara is a dumb idea. Here’s what I wrote two years ago:

How does this have any more mass market appeal than building one’s own PC? And with mobile devices, size and weight matter more than ever, and reductions in size and weight can only come through integration.

Monday, 23 May 2016