Do Consumers Actually Want Modular Phones?

project-ara-theverge-2_1020The Verge has an excel­lent article on Google’s Project Ara. The concept of a truly modular phone sounds like the holy grail to many tech enthusiasts.

Instead of having to pay $600 an replace your entire phone every 6 months to keep up with the latest and greatest, you will be able to just swap out a module (CPU or screen or some­thing else) and update your existing phone. Project Ara isn’t a hack either. They’re thinking through all the elements quite care­fully including the ability to hot swap modules and using magnets to hold every­thing in place tightly.

It’s bold and ambi­tious and runs directly contrary to the move throughout the IT industry (phones and computers) towards tighter and tighter inte­gra­tion with less replace­able compo­nents. That the geeks and hackers will want it is unques­tion­able, what’s really unknown is if anyone else will care.

Because if you look at the mass market, there are very few prod­ucts  that fit this mold at all. Gener­ally people buy a phone, keep it for 2+ years and then buy a new one. They don’t care if it’s not the latest and greatest. The same is true of computers, and tvs, and DVD players.

There are signif­i­cant poten­tial costs to a modular design (both in mone­tary and design terms) too. There’s a real risk that a modular phone will end up being more expen­sive and less capable in terms of raw power than an inte­grated equivalent.

I kind of want this to work, just because. But in truth, I’m not sure I’d buy one.

Source: The Verge

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