Project Ara

Motorola Mobile, acquired by Google Inc. in 2011, recently revealed its new venture called Project Ara. This project is an open-source initiative for modular smartphones with the aim to create an ecosystem that can support third party hardware development for individual phone components, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines. A positive start to this project is the fact that it is open-source, other companies may be willing to jump on board to push progress. In addition, this looks somewhat similar to how Android was first rolled out by Google. The idea is to create a customizable platform for hardware just like what Android has done for its mobile operating system. With Project Ara in effect, individuals will be able to upgrade their phone’s processor, display, and more by shopping at different merchants.

Motorola Mobility will be partnering up with Phoneblocks, which has also revealed its ambitious concept for modular smartphones. 3D Systems has also joined in and, in a recent press release, confirmed that it will be partnering up with Motorola to “create a continuous high-speed 3D printing production platform and fulfillment system” for Ara. 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental said in a statement, “Project Ara was conceived to build a platform that empowers consumers all over the world with customization for a product made by and for the individual.”

It is hard to say when this project will be ready for direct consumers even though experts estimate its release by late December, 2013. Will this enhance Google’s position in the industry or will the project see a premature halt like many other Google ventures? Regardless, the hype this product is creating will definitely work in Google’s favor.

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