Project Ara dies, as modular smartphones live on

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It is not always the innovators who dominate a market, because if competitors manage to imitate the ideas of these innovators, and execute them in a better way, then chances are, these imitators would be the one with the market share.

This is similar to what happened with Apple and Samsung. Samsung’s first smartphone was very much inspired by the iPhone, and over the course of seven generations, Samsung has managed to inject its own identity into that of the smartphone, and is the defacto leader of the Android market, and the biggest competition to Apple’s iPhone.

Take a look around recent smartphone launches, and LG’s G5 and Motorola’s Moto Z stand out. Why? Well, they offer some modularity, and allow customers to expand their smartphone’s feature set using modular accessories.

Arguably, all these manufacturers were inspired by Google’s Project Ara and got the most feasible twist on the concept into the market as soon as possible.

And now, Project Ara, the innovator in modular phones is closing down. Google tried to push the envelope of what smartphones can do, and it failed. Its original idea of having a completely modular smartphone proved to expensive, so Google scaled down the reach of its vision, and Project Ara became less modular and less expandable, similar to the capabilities of the modular phones of today.

But Alphabet has apparently started to realize that Project Ara won’t be a profitable venture anytime soon, and so closed the division down, rumoredly under the advice of Rick Osterloh, Google’s hardware chief.

Google transformed from a single company with subdivisions to a large company with subsidiaries in order to bring about transparency about where all the money is going. It wanted to keep its ventures’ spotty financial record away from Google’s moneymaking properties. And under the new restructured Google (Alphabet rather), it seems divisions are being given less freedom and leeway, and ventures that are not making money are closed down or scaled down.

What do you think?


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