Motorola Throws Shade On Google’s Failed Project Ara Modular Smartphone, Touts Moto Mods Superiority

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Google’s initial plans for Project Ara modular smartphone concept were ambitious, with the company hoping to allow consumers to swap out their displays, processor and even RAM. However, “refinements” made to the program over the course of its development led to prototypes that had all of those aforementioned components integrated into the base smartphone, greatly diminishing the usefulness of the modular concept.

After years of development, Google finally pulled the plug on Project Area in early September. According to the folks at Motorola, Google’s decision to eventually abandon the endeavor didn’t come as a surprise. To their eyes, Google went about the modular approach the wrong way from the start.

"They didn’t really think about the consumer at all," said Stephen McDonnell, Senior Manager for Motorola’s Moto Mods division. "Their whole idea was based around technology, what can you do, but not what the customer wants."

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Google’s efforts were admirable, and the prospects of replacing a broken smartphone screen by swapping it out for a new one in a few seconds sounds fantastic; actually implementing the system turned out to be a huge headache. In the end, Project Ara pretty much amounted to a smartphone for engineers, created by engineers that had no broad consumer appeal.

"It was exciting for developers, but they got the priority wrong,” added. McDonnell.

He then of course references the Moto Mods system, which adds new functionality using accessories that magnetically “snap” onto the back of your Moto Z Series smartphone. You can add a supplementary battery, an upgraded Hasselblad camera module, or even a mobile speaker. All of the Moto Mods are hot swappable, meaning that you don’t have to power off your device to install them, and you can use them immediately.

moto mods pico

It’s that last point that led McDonnell to also throw some shade on the failed, modular LG G5 flagship Android smartphone. “I think with LG and Friends - they wanted you to switch off your phone to change parts, and it was a whole process, who is going to do that?"

In order to build up excitement for the Moto Mods ecosystem, Motorola teamed up with Indiegogo to launch the Moto Mods Developer contest in late 2016 and has hosted Moto Mods hackathons to help give birth to innovative creations.