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Thread: Google's Project Ara

  1. #1
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    Google's Project Ara




    Google's Project Ara will have a store for its modular bits
    23 October, 2014


    Google's modular smartphone effort, codenamed Project Ara, seems to be chugging along nicely ahead of its expected release in 2015. Team leader Paul Eremenko said in an interview at Purdue University that there will be a special store for Ara components, complete with recommendations and reviews.
    This will emulate the Google Play Store and its software sales, but for the modular hardware that will make up the Ara.


    He also reiterated that the Ara MDK is free and open and available to everybody. So presumably anyone could create a module, just like theoretically anyone can make an Android app. If you do that, you then put it up for sale in the Play Store - while for Ara hardware modules you'll be able to do the same, using the upcoming Ara module marketplace. This will allow module makers to sell them directly to consumers, which is apparently what Google wants.
    It will be interesting to see how many different modules will be dreamt up by developers, and how many the Ara module marketplace will stock when it launches. In the mobile software world, for a long time success was measured by how many apps were available for a platform. So if Project Ara wants to emulate that, then it should have a lot of modules listed in its store.
    Project Ara was started at Motorola, but Google kept it when it sold the phone maker to Lenovo. The base price for the modular smartphone will be around $50.


    Google's Project Ara will have a store for its modular bits - GSMArena.com news
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    And this, ladies and gentlemen is the future of mobile phones.

    In years far from now, the Iphone will be remembered, not as the Jesus phone that the fanboys would wish but as a laggard, the last desperate cry of a dying time. It is Android and Project Ara that will be known as the great turning point.

    We are reaching where phone software is being divorced from phone hardware. The phone is following in the footsteps of the mighty PC when software became more and more indifferent to the hardware it ran on. This time however, it wont take decades as we have the wealth of experience we gained from the PC. The 80's heralded a variety of PC's with proprietary and individual OS's like the TRS-80, The Commodore 64, The Amiga and the IBM PCjr. Each one, difficult to customize, running it's own different processor with it's own OS, software simply wasn't portable and the hardware wasn't cheap. Getting a bespoke computer not only cost a small fortune it was the size of a doghouse, a realm limited to fortune 500 companies and the 5 richest kings of Europe.

    Now if you want a bespoke computer... it's as simple as a call to Dell or your local computer shop and it's as cheap as chips.

    So how did this come about? The answer came in two parts. First, software was divorced from hardware, as much as we despise Microsoft we have to credit them for that. Secondly we standardised on the hardware and more importantly the hardware interconnects, ISA, DIMM, PCI, IDE all meant we weren't locked into a single hardware vendor any more and competition forced hardware to become much cheaper.

    And now phones are following the same route. By making the hardware modular we are making it easier for vendors to compete, by allowing manufacturers to buy off the shelf components we benefit more from economies of scale and repair and upgrades of existing phones becomes a cheap reality. Say you want more storage... just buy a new module from Amazon. My phone doesn't have an SD card reader, I'll just nip down the shops and get one and the WiFi transmitter in Geoff's phone has died... Back in the iTimes that meant he had to buy a new phone. Sure most people will still buy a complete phone from Samsung or LG same as people buy a complete computer from Dell or Toshiba but like a Dell, it will be easily repaired and upgraded.
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    It all sounds great, but how much will it mean for the average Joe User? Consider that a vast percentage of the users has never installed an app. And I dare say that replacing a hardware part is a step further for those. Also consider how many PC users that ever has changed anything inside their PC.

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    Senior Member BroTiger's Avatar
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    Nope, don't think so. Some geeks no doubt get a hard on over this idea. But the average consumer can't be bothered.

    People don't buy bespoke computers, much less phones. They buy appliances. Kids don't even play with Legos anymore, or build model airplanes. They want everything to be ready to go out of the box.
    kris-one and LivinLOS like this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BroTiger View Post
    Kids don't even play with Legos anymore, or build model airplanes. They want everything to be ready to go out of the box.
    That part you got wrong. Being a Dane, I know a little about Lego. They are very successful these years, even passed Mattel as the biggest toy producer last year. And that is despite them having only one product. They even made a blockbuster movie about not playing with things out of the box, and a great movie is is too.
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    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
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    I dont even understand anything you guys have said
    And there are a lot more dummies like me than you

    So that is how that goes

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    Senior Member BroTiger's Avatar
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    Well I will happily stand corrected regarding the popularity of Legos. They were my favorite toys as I was growing up. I also loved building airplanes from balsa wood, spruce and heat shrink Mylar. My Dad and I designed a radio controlled glider together when I was in high school.

    As an electronics engineer I started out designing ISA and EISA graphics boards for PCs, then gate arrays and finally massive VLSI mixed-signal ASICs for special signal processing applications.

    The last thing I want to do is build my own phone from plug in parts. Mostly because plugin connections are the least reliable in any system, not to mention bulky and susceptible to outside interference. And also because I have many better things to do.

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    Senior Member BroTiger's Avatar
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    Yeah, this will be about as successful as the Zune. Remember that? These geeks wouldn't know product design if it bit them in the ass. Everything about it is wrong for a personal device meant to be used daily.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BroTiger View Post
    Well I will happily stand corrected regarding the popularity of Legos. They were my favorite toys as I was growing up. I also loved building airplanes from balsa wood, spruce and heat shrink Mylar. My Dad and I designed a radio controlled glider together when I was in high school.

    As an electronics engineer I started out designing ISA and EISA graphics boards for PCs, then gate arrays and finally massive VLSI mixed-signal ASICs for special signal processing applications.

    The last thing I want to do is build my own phone from plug in parts. Mostly because plugin connections are the least reliable in any system, not to mention bulky and susceptible to outside interference. And also because I have many better things to do.
    I work in CMOS image sensors, and I concur.
    LivinLOS likes this.

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    While is does not make much sense for (most) users, it could be good for the manufacturers and the shops - if the concept will ever fly. The shops can offer tailored phones and then put together the phone using the necessary modules, just as it is often done with no name PCs. And it will be a hell of a lot easier to repair or even upgrade such a phone.

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    This might take off for some people. Not everyone will know how to aseemble a pc or even a phone. How will the warranty be? I dont mind myself. If my phone goes kaput overseas, will i be able to fix it using this method? If yes, wow !!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by marc26 View Post
    I dont even understand anything you guys have said
    And there are a lot more dummies like me than you
    Put simply, the dummies don't get a say.

    The people who understand will guide it.

    The true brilliance of the results of Project Ara is, most of you will have it and never even notice. You'll still buy a complete phone in a nice shiny case from your brand of choice... but the insides will be interchangeable modules.

    How many of you know who made your computers LCD screen... it wasn't the name on the box. Most will be made from LG, Hitachi, Samsung or Sony. Your GPU is made by AMD, Nvidia or Intel, your RAM by Hynix, Samsung or Kingston. The biggest reason computer hardware became so cheap was because manufacturers could just buy bits off the shelf... This means that Hynix made RAM for HP, Dell and Apple in the one giant fab rather than HP, Dell and Apple each having to manufacture their own RAM in their own small fabs.

    Paulie, of all people you should be familiar with the benefits of economies of scale.

    So most of you buy a computer from Dell, Toshiba and the like... but you don't realise you're buying a Hitachi screen, Hynix RAM, Nvidia video card and Intel CPU that Toshiba simply bought off the shelf. Very few components in a computer, even an Apple are bespoke.

    People thinking Project Ara will never take off were the same people in the 80's who thought the Personal Computer was just a fad and bought shares in electronic typewriter manufacturers.
    Waharoa likes this.
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