A short history of Project Ara, in breathless headlines and sceptical observations

Modular smartphones stand comparison with build-your-own PCs. PCs built by users occupy the smaller part of the overall PC pie chart but can claim to be a sustainable niche. Building a PC provides clear and dominant benefits over pre-built PCs and laptops: access to gaming/compute power that is greater, relatively affordable, and more upgradeable. This is what keeps PC building sustainable. There’s no such singular, overriding benefit for modular phones over integrated phones. For modular phones to make sense they would need to be considerably cheaper to put together than your iPhones and Galaxies, or served a functional purpose with greater power or effectiveness. And being smartphones, they couldn’t be much bulkier either. Project Ara never really gave the indication that it would bring to market that comparative benefit.

The Overspill: when there's more that I want to say

Project Ara’s Spiral 2 prototype. This is about as far as it got. Photo by pestoverde on Flickr.

Never heard of Project Ara? Start here. Know it all about Project Ara? Start here, and enjoy the ride.

April 2014:Building blocks: how Project Ara is reinventing the smartphone” (The Verge):

Ara modules need to have a way to communicate with the rest of the phone, but physical contacts are often dirty and unreliable. So instead, the modules will use “capacitive interconnects,” which are wireless and theoretically more reliable, especially at high speeds. The capacitive pads also will help save space on the modules, since they’re smaller than physical pins.

When it comes to keeping the modules in place, physical latches are fiddly and can easily break. Instead, Ara phones will use electropermanent magnets to hold them in place…

…The head of Project Ara, Paul Eremenko, says he is…

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