Initially, Phonebloks concept was created by a Dutch designer Dave Hakkens and later developed by Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group owned by Google. The name Phoneblocks was picked up because the concept assumed the phone would be built from Lego-like blocks, which users could easily change.
In the second half of 2014 Google sold Motorola to Lenovo. But the Big G retained the ATAP group as well as all its patents. So now the Phoneblocks project is called Google’s Project Ara. Why ‘Project Ara’ you may ask? The official website states: “As it turns out, our lead mechanical designer is named Ara. And we like him. And we also like his name. So we named the phone Ara. We hope you like it too.” 🙂
Director of Project Ara Paul Eremenko says that Project Ara is a hardware analog of Android. Google ATAP group works to make mobile hardware ecosystem similar to the mobile applications ecosystem.