The post-PC Microsoft
Modularity is hardly a new concept – we have an entire PC-building industry that revolves around the users, and their ever-adapting machines. At its very core, the fundamental concept holds true: you remove an older component, and update or upgrade it with a better one, repeating the process at your own pace, with your own rules.
The modular dream has its challenges. While PC-building is the closest thing we have to modularity, it’s not as instinctively understood as swapping a phone case. Most modular smartphones we’ve seen (be it conceptual or sale-ready) revolved around removing jargon and technical challenges. Instead of having to worry about cables, compatibility, and safety, modular phone parts simplied all these by turning key components into various attachments that require nothing more than plug-and-play.
Of course, there are downsides to oversimplifying a technological miracle like a smartphone. Every part needed massive re-tooling for them to conform to that modular form factor, and it either cost signicant amounts of money or required exceptional talent to do so. Take for example Phonebloks and Modu, both whom which explored the modern modular phone idea even before Google came on board. Modu had to shut down and sell their patents to Google, and Phonebloks quickly hopped on board with the freshly-minted Project Ara team despite having dabbled with modules for two years. Phonebloks was also then unceremoniously discarded when Google lost interest in Project Ara.
“Phonebloks was also then unceremoniously discarded when Google lost interest in Project Ara.”
“Modu had to shut down and sell their patents to Google, and Phonebloks quickly hopped on board with the freshly-minted Project Ara team...”