Dave Hakkens, a Dutch visionary, credited as the originator of the modular movement, does not see eye to eye with Google about Ara‘s future.
The modular phone concept picked up pace after a video was posted to YouTube, that went on to amass nearly 22 million views. The first prototype was dubbed ‘Phonebloks’ and led Motorola –under the aegis of Google– to launch project Ara.
Dave sees two issues with Ara’s prototype:
First, imbedding CPU, antennas, sensors, battery and display into Ara’s skeleton strips the phone of its modularity. The six modules on the back are simply “add-ons” and undermine the principles on which Ara was started – flexibility, price, waste reduction.
It means your phone still gets obsolete after a while. What if your screen breaks? Well you still need to replace the entire phone. And after a couple of years it gets slow and you need to replace your entire skeleton.
Second, Google exerts too much power over the process. Despite an open ecosystem and expected contributions from a variety of developers, Google will remain in the driving seat. Running the entire show by one party could create a competitive platform and confrontation rather than collaborative spirit.
They are in charge, they make the rules. They can decided to suddenly change the connectors, or design. Making all previous modules you have obsolete.
The Dutch nonetheless likes the simplicity of design, citing the resemblance to initial Phonebloks’ sketches. He also applauds the company for sticking with the project and not letting it sink.
Dave’s input is nothing but valuable. He’s raised some concerns that Google will have to address later on. To make the ‘phone of the future’, you need to join forces with the entire modular community. Only then it will truly become a device “for the entire world”.