When the news broke that Google’s modular phone, Project Ara, had been shelved, many of us were shocked. Only months ago at Google I/O 2016, the company laid out plans to begin shipping developer units this fall and open up sales to the general public in 2017…
In light of the news, I talked to Dan Makoski, former Head of Design at Google ATAP and Founder of Project Ara, about the reports that Google was shutting down the project. He had the following to say:
It’s disappointing to the teams who have worked so hard to make it real, disheartening to the developers hoping to bring their innovations to life, and frustrating to the fans across the world who were so eager to have Ara in their hands.
He went on:
I’m personally saddened at the lack of courage to take it across the finish line, but I know and respect Rick Osterloh. He was one of the few executives who encouraged me when I first pitched the idea, and trust that he has good reasons to postpone.
In the initial report, it was said that Google’s hardware division, led by former Motorola President Rick Osterloh, is being streamlined and Project Ara just did not make the cut. While there is still a chance that the core modular technology could get licensed out to another company (or picked up again at some point in the future), Ara itself looks to be no more.
Although Makoski is no longer with ATAP and Google, he believes that modularity is not going away.
… Modularity is not a fad – it will endure as long as human beings value their creativity over their role of being passive consumers.
Although the current ‘modular’ phones on the market such as the LG G5 and Moto Z are not truly modular, there is still a chance that something like Project Ara will come to market. Makoski is currently working with a company called Nexpaq on a modular platform that will be shipping soon.
Editor’s note: We have corrected the statement saying that Makoski is working with Nexpaq on a modular phone. It turns out Nexpaq is actually working building a modular phone case. We incorrectly assumed it was a phone based on Makowski’s statement.