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First Click: Is Google right to axe the Ara modular phone?

Wow, it’s the end of an ara at Google, Project Ara to be specific, Google’s ambitious modular phone project. I woke up this morning to the Reuters exclusive, citing Alphabet’s desire to kill the initiative in an effort to further streamline the company’s hardware efforts.

Project Ara as a concept certainly had its share of fans especially in its original interpretation, inspired by Dave Hakkens’ 2013 Phonebloks concept. A phone that could be upgraded over the years and help reduce electronic waste was so utterly Googley that it was hard not to like it. But Google’s engineers soon found that the early modular-everything design was too unrealistic to bring to market. So in May, it announced a compromised vision with an ecosystem built around an Ara frame that included non-removable components like the display, battery, CPU / GPU, memory, and sensors. It had its fans, but many more detractors, with some calling it a boondoggle and others saying the new Ara was too heavily compromised. Even Hakkens himself, voiced displeasure.

At the time, our Ara poll showed that 75 percent of those who responded would only buy Ara if it was priced the same or less than an equivalently specced iPhone or Samsung Galaxy flagship. In other words, few saw Ara’s modularity as added value.

So, assuming the story now corroborated by sources speaking to Reuters, Recode, and The New York Times is true, what do you think? Was Google right to axe the Ara phone?

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