No, this new iPhone killer is akin to what would happen if the company that makes Legos merged with Google and decided to combine their technological skills and experience. Ipso facto, alakazam, introducing the all new 2016 Legophone, by Google.
Parts Is Parts
If there’s human on planet earth that does not know about Legos then we really are living in the Matrix, and I’m OK with that because here is where tall is better and blondes have more fun. A few years ago, the executives at Google were sitting around nibbling on sushi, playing foosball, contemplating Einstein’s theory of relativity and how it doesn’t quite hook up with quantum mechanics despite both being math, when one of them– he or she refuses to take credit for this idea– said, “Hey, let’s build a smartphone out of Lego blocks.”
Project Ara was born and a mild earthquake struck Apple headquarters in Cupertino, CA. Why. Because Google.
Project Ara is the codename for an unnamed, upcoming modular smartphone that is made of a central module board with individual modules that can be connected. The platform will include a structural frame or endoskeleton that holds smartphone modules of the owner’s choice, such as a display, camera or an extra battery. It would allow users to swap out malfunctioning modules or upgrade individual modules as innovations emerge, providing longer lifetime cycles for the handset, and potentially reducing electronic waste.
In other words, a cheap-assed smartphone made up of Lego-like building blocks– parts– because everyone beyond the age of four enjoys playing with Legos.
Google says the device is designed to be utilized by “6 billion people”; including 1 billion current smartphone users, 5 billion feature phone users, and 1 billion future users not currently connected. Google intends to sell a starter kit where the bill of materials is US$50 and includes a frame, display, battery, low-end CPU and WiFi.
Google makes about 95-percent of its revenue and profits by selling advertising while posing as a technology company, albeit one that dabbles in high profile electronics; Google Car, Nexus smartphone, and, uh, um– well, I can’t really think of anything else offhand. But somehow people throughout the world are going to ditch their smartphones and feature phones and common sense and scurry down to Fry’s to buy all the parts they need to construct their own smartphone from a variety of components. And you thought the SKU’s for iPhone and iPad were crazy.
How could such a pie-in-the-sky idea as a Lego phone defeat Apple’s dominance of smartphone industry revenue and profits?
Here’s how it will go down:
Me: ‘Hey, Mom. Throw away your iPhone and build your own smartphone out of these little Lego-like modular parts. It’ll be easy and fun and you’ll save tons of money.’
Mom: ‘OK. Thanks for the tip, honey. This is fun.’
See? Apple is doomed. Just repeat that scenario a 100-million times earth wide. It could happen just like that. Just like England’s voters would be shortsighted enough to leave the European Union (leaving Germany in charge of Europe; what could go wrong there?), and American voters would be sufficiently anti-establishment to elect Donald Trump as president, a businessman whose many books always seem to end at Chapter 11.
Google’s Project Ara team says they have modified the concept of a user upgradeable smartphone into a modular computer platform that challenges the very notion of what a smartphone could be. Uh huh. Lego’s do exactly the same thing. But they probably cost more, and it’s trivial to turn a stack of Legos into a helicopter, or a self-driving car, or a plastic drone delivery service, any one of which will work as well as a Google Legophone.
Modularity has worked so well for consumers. That’s why we have modular cars, modular TV sets, modular homes, modular furniture, and modular shoes; because we love to mix and match parts like pre-schoolers.