With Motorola's announcement of Project Ara, an open-source plan for modular smartphones, comes a true shift in the smartphone hardware space. Though the project may currently be just a small step, it's a step in the right direction towards a huge shift in tech.
I started following Phonebloks, another open-source initiative for modular tech, months ago and was immediately enamored. There were, of course, the key impacts of this idea: reduction of e-waste, higher quality parts and equal access to tech across the globe, but there were a few additional aspects stood out to me.
1. Love Your Phone...Forever.
Whether they like to admit it or not, a lot of consumers have a connection with their phone. Their phone is with them at all times (in use or not). Their phone captures moments that they never want to forget. Their phone connects them to the people they love the most. With modular technology, consumers will be able to keep their phone for a currently incalculable amount of time. Yes, consumers will be able to fix their "companion" should anything happen. It may sound silly, but I think the idea of modular technology will have a profound effect on how long consumers keep their phones and how long consumers WANT to keep their phones.
2. Businesses Will Love This
I've begun to see a trend in B2B markets where businesses (Small, Mid-Market, Enterprise) want a truly customized experience with the products, solutions and services they purchase. A product specifically tailored for their needs. The idea of modular technology fits right in the meaty part of this trend. For example: A small business that sends and receives large media files on a daily basis would need a device with much large storage and screen size along with faster processing power. The ability for a company to create one-of-a-kind devices for employees and their specific job functions? Yeah...It's exciting.
3. Everyone Can Become A Hardware Developer
I use "hardware developer" in a loose sense, but an issue that has been around from the beginning with high-profile consumer technology is the inability for individual consumers (I'm talking those without technical understanding) to understand how a product works. Essentially, how the inner workings of a product work. This could open up an entirely new market for consumers to develop products for. An add on for a camera module, a belt-clip module (for Dad's!) and the list goes on and on.
I know that this idea is a moonshot, but that's what it has to be. That's what pushes technology forward. And I am excited about it.