Google’s Project Ara is based on the idea that smartphones can be modular. The notion that a customizable and upgradable device will fare better than one that is not. This will only be the case, however, if they can keep it simple enough for people to figure out.

In Project Ara, smartphone components can easily be snapped on and off. This means the phone could theoretically be sold “future-proof” with the assurance that parts could be upgraded or replaced at any time. The shell would be a one-time buy. This concept was first unveiled around two years ago. Google is now promising that consumers will be able to purchase the first Ara phone sometime next year.

Consumers have different needs. Sometimes people want a better camera but don’t want to upgrade to a whole new phone. With a modular system, you could order a new camera and swap them out. If you aren’t satisfied, revert back or buy an even better camera. Certain components will be off limits for swapping like the processor, for instance. But the possibilities are still intriguing!

It is difficult to predict whether or not Project Ara will catch on. Do consumers want to be able to customize their equipment like we do with computers. Only certain people tinker with their computer hardware. Other companies have tried releasing “modular phones” but they all failed. Will Project Ara be good enough?

Should Ara be a hit, it has the potential to revolutionize the way we buy smartphones. Tech companies will have to rethink the current marketing methods. Rather than advertising minor upgrades about once a year, emphasis will have to be placed on new core components that can’t be changed. Value of a phone might be based on the number of possible customization options, rather than how many megapixels the camera has.

The way consumers react to this release will have a major impact on the future of smartphones. What direction will the market turn next? Only time will tell.

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