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Motorola speaks out on why Google and LG’s modular smartphones failed

As many of you might know, the modular smartphone known as Project Ara initially began life at Motorola, back when the smartphone maker was still owned by Google. Since then, Motorola has been sold off to Lenovo and Google continued the project on its own. Unfortunately, things came to a disappointing and somewhat abrupt end last year when Google officially cancelled the project, despite plans to release the first device and modules in 2017. Clearly, the Project failed somewhere along the way and now, Motorola executives have offered up their opinion as to why Google couldn't get Project Ara off the ground.

During an interview recently with NDTV, Motorola's senior Manager for Moto Mods, Stephen McDonnell explained that in development, Google didn't put enough thought into the consumer end of things: “They didn’t really think about the consumer at all. Their whole idea was based around technology, what can you do, but not what the customer wants. They wanted to do things like change the specs but that doesn’t really change the consumer experience”.

The project was admittedly exciting for developers and possibly some more tech-minded consumers but for most people, Ara wasn't going to do much for them. McDonnell also went on to talk a bit about LG's own failed attempt at smartphone modularity, which he explained was also wrong as it locked users in to using mods on more of a full time basis.

Motorola is now having its own attempt at smartphone modularity in the form of Moto Mods, which are add-on modules for the Moto Z smartphones. Current mods include things like stereo speakers, a mini-projector, a camera grip and optical zoom.

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KitGuru Says: Project Ara came to a disappointing end and LG has also given up on the modular smartphone idea at this point. Hopefully Motorola's Moto Mods can solve the issues of its predecessors

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  1. Yes it was a cool idea but as moto said it was more about the tech and tech minded consumers. The everyday user would most likely still go out and buy a new phone when their contract runs out even if they had a modular based phone just because there most likely would be something new and exciting with a bigger screen or new fancy case etc etc. I know myself when I first get a new phone I am excited about it for about 2 weeks and try out all the new features on it. But after that the phone just becomes my tool and I use it until the contract runs out.

    I do like Moto’s idea of being able to add things to your existing phone like a mini projector or some other interesting tech to make the phone more useful or just fun to use. Would I get a Moto phone most likely not but with my contract running out in the spring and if they have something interesting by then who knows maybe they will be my next go to phone company. I was looking forward to the Galaxy S8 but form the concept pictures we have seen it looks like they might have taken the home button out of the phone this time around.

  2. I was a Moto fan when it was truly Motorola. I bought the second gen Moto X which was released after Google bought the company. That phone had been designed by the Moto crew and was built by the Moto crew. Google paid for that phone to be built by Motorola people. I bought the third gen which saw Chinese Lenovo as the new owners. Still developed in the U.S. but assembled in China. There is a huge difference in quality. I really don’t want to risk buying a phone from a company that goes down in quality.

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