“In the beginning, the project envisioned the phone to resemble Lego blocks for convenience”.
Of all the attempts seen over the years, Google’s Project Ara received the most traction, as its conception and development were steeped in other modular phones we’ve mentioned, and it eventually inspired the successful versions that came after it. In the beginning, the project envisioned the phone to resemble Lego blocks for convenience, where it could be rearranged or taken apart in minutes.
Admittedly, that concept came from the PC-building metaphor we used, where high-end PC builders were able to upgrade parts of their system without needing to replace the entire setup every few years.
The first setback they faced was nothing short of a premature birth.
In September 2013, Phonebloks announced their product, serving as a wake-up call to Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (which was under Google’s purview). According to a January 2017 interview with VentureBeat, ATAP was already working in secret a year before Phonebloks, and the Ara team reached out to Phonebloks to announce their version.
The phone made its first developer’s preview with a working prototype in 2014. However, Google’s management of their rock stars led to a founder leaving the Ara team even before the first prototype, and the other lead was desperately trying to launch the modular phone within the next 13 months. But it wasn’t enough time. While it could be technically executed, Project Ara was hampered by minor production snags and business partners wanting more out of their relationship with Google.
Project Ara changed leadership twice, and the momentum died when their last manager left to join a subsidiary of Facebook. By then, the LG G5 had already surfaced, and Google lost interest in Project Ara.