Motorola announces Project Ara, an open hardware platform with modular components ala Phonebloks

Motorla Project Ara modules

Was just about to hit the hay for the evening when this came through the wire. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure I’m not still dreaming in my onesie, but here goes. Revealed in a press release just moments ago is Motorola’s ambitious open hardware platform dubbed Project Ara. You heard right, according to Motorola, they want to do to hardware, what Android has done to software. How? By creating an open based modular smartphone platform. I’ll give you a few moments to pick your jaw up from the ground.

Better? Good. Alright, so the goal with Project Ara is to have 3rd party developers create pieces of a phone that can be decided upon by the user, not unlike what we saw in the Phonebloks concept we showed you a few weeks ago. While everyone could agree that allowing users to choose individual components of a smartphone could be fun, it sounded so far fetched, many — myself included — dismissed it as a dream that simply wasn’t possible. Oh, how wrong we were.

Project Ara smartphone

According to Motorola, each device will come with an endoskeleton or “endo” that holds all the different components together (see above image). And really, skies the limit when it comes to the modules that can be attached to an endo. Hardware keyboard, faster processor, bigger battery, or something different altogether (taser gun perhaps?). Anything you can dream up.

The craziest part is that Motorola says they’ve been secretly working on Project Ara for over a year now. This could have really been what Motorola’s Guy Kawasaki alluded to back in March. It wasn’t until recently Motorola teamed up with the creator of the Phonebloks concept. Motorola mentions a similar vision for the future of smartphones, where the Phonebloks head has already begun laying the groundwork for a community based on open, customizable, modular-based hardware.

Motorla Project Ara phone concept

Motorola says the MDK (Module Developer’s Kit) will be released sometime in the next few months, where developers will soon be invited to start creating modules for Project Ara. Interested in becoming an Ara Scout? Motorola is inviting regular folks like yourself to collaborate with them on “special missions” that will help shape Project Ara for the masses. Think of it like the Motorola Feedback Network but more fun. Sign up here.

Okay, now that we got all that out of the way… Seriously, is this a dream?

UPDATE
New video posted:Motorola and Phonebloks: the next step.

[via Motorola]

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  • randomblame

    So beautiful should have sent a poet

  • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

    Before I finally go to bed I just wanna say it’s sh*t like this that’s the reason why I love Android so much. Apple doesn’t have the balls to do this. Hell, a lot of Android OEMs don’t. But when your back is against the wall like Motorola, you’re forced to think outside the box. You’re forced to make something extraordinary. Where smartphones are all becoming these boring slabs of tech forced down consumers throats, I think Project Ara has the potential to change everything. I almost wanna cry. O_o

    • Dan

      damn right

    • JointhePredacons

      Im glad you said their “back is against the wall”, its true. Still waiting for something decent to come out of Motorolla, sadly i think we will still be disappointed. I think they should just give this project to someone that can actually pull it off, like Google, or HTC.

      • TheDrizzle

        I’m pretty sure the Moto X was something more than decent. It may not be super popular but it is a superb piece of hardware with a great user experience.

    • Chris Cosgrove

      See, this is what I thought the Moto X project was all about. I originally thought it would be a phone that you can upgrade pieces of it without having to flat out buy a new phone. So you want a faster processor? Plug it in. New display? Plug it in. How about an updated wifi or lte connections? Plug it in!

      Or…I switched from one carrier to another…Plug in the new Radios!! That’s exactly the type of phone I’ve been dying for. So what if it looks like legos, Speaking of, have the phone look like legos with different colored pieces!

    • Roaduardo

      ;)

  • np6s4x

    a hardware upgradable phone would be epic

  • TeeJay1100

    This will be epic.. Something new and something freshhhhh

    • TheDrizzle

      It’s definitely what the mobile phone market needs right now: something fresh! I really hope this works. But if it doesn’t, at least Moto is taking risks. I love it.

  • phoenix_fire

    HO
    LEE
    SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT

  • Subzer0

    Here Comes The Revolution!.. all my devices have been from Motorola XD

    • JointhePredacons

      Sad. All of my devices have been from HTC. The Droids were horrible.

      • allday28

        How were the druids horrible?

        • JointhePredacons

          Im not sure how the druids were horrible, you’d have to check with a historian.

          • Subzer0

            sucks that you’ve had a bad experience with Motorola devices.. mines where all great XD.. awesome build quality and great battery life.

  • Fel Pe

    Oh boy that is fun!!

  • Chris

    Way more useful than curved display phones!

    • Wozn2

      Yep, what would you rather have, a bulge in your jeans pocket or a phone you can upgrade and customise quickly and cheaply – not to mention environmentally responsibly.

      • Paul Taylor

        One might give you the other…

        • Wozn2

          That’s the “right kind” of bulge though ;-)

  • JoeyKhache

    Ara is slang for “hey you”, in Armenian.

    • Joseph

      It’s also slang in Ireland to signify that you don’t care about something….:P

      • corkcitybai

        I hope Moto’s slogan for the phone is something like “ARA – Be Grand”

        • Joseph

          hahahaha that’s brilliant man!

  • scoter man1

    Before I sleep, I’ll put a request in for a mobile Intel core i7 and a mobile gtx 780 ti and a 10000mAh battery. Why? So I can browse the internet. Really. Really. Fast.

    • lolwut

      I want a built in diesel back-up generator

      • TheDrizzle

        Your profile picture is awesome by the way.

        • lolwut

          Thx :)

    • godrilla

      don’t forget gsync monitor. lol

  • Six6Sicks

    Can we just get some God damn sample images from the camera?!?!?!

  • Rysol

    it isnt that hard to come up with ideas when you are browsing kickstarter and decide to “borrow” ideas

    • Montisaquadeis

      No borrowing when you are working with the person/people behind the idea in the first place. check the Motorola link

    • lolwut

      They hired the guy that cooked it up; read the article

  • lolwut

    As an engineer, I want way more details on this

    I’m very skeptical, but cautiously enthusiastic

    • Marcos Peña

      Me too! Sounds very cool but at the same time a nightmare for an engineer

  • lolwut

    Ok I know I’m blowing up this thread but this just occurred to me and it could be a real problem:

    I’m gathering that it’s not fully modular like the phonebloks design nor technologically do I think it could be. That said; I think they are basically trying to crowdsource what people want in a phone. Check out the motto: “A phone designed for 6 billion people should be inspired by at least a few thousand.” Notice those words, “A [single] phone” and “Inspired.” So let’s say this is just basically a crowdsourced design with a few swappable skins and screen/battery size options (also think about the custom ROM nightmare of having the option of a bunch of different CPUs to support — just a side thought); that’s lame, but it’s probably pretty close to what the final product will look like. And there’s the problem — the early supporters of this and those who are “inspiring” the design/hardware/whatever are going to be super techno-geeks. Follow me here…

    So one of two things will happen:
    1. The geeks “inspire” this design and it’s amazing and we Phandroid reader-types have been right all along — battery size is preferable to thinness, AOSP is preferable to erroneous TouchWiz/Sense nonsense, removable storage is a must, etc. and it’s a commercial success

    2. We were wrong and the product teams have been right all along and our geek dream phones are not commercially viable. OEMs will see this and we’ll forever be relegated to iPhone-ish designs.

    • Paul Taylor

      Hmm unless the platform allows me to choose for myself whether I want to sacrifice removable storage or choose whether or not to include NFC and GPS, or to go for a bigger battery etc. then it’s a bit pointless isn’t it?

    • Aaron Sua

      I don’t think so. The article clearly states that Moto is releasing module dev kits. Meaning a kit for developers of modules. Even if it isn’t put into production as a user upgradeable you will at least have the ability to custom build your phone by selecting modules and have some sort of upgrade path even if you have to get the device someplace for warranty service.

  • stufffffffffffff

    as long as its water resistant like my galaxy active I’m so in

  • Toasted_Cracker

    Kinda gives a new meaning to “break me off a piece of that kitkat bar” ;-)

  • JointhePredacons

    Ill wait for a company with proven success to do this. Maybe Google or HTC. And NOOO just because Google owns Motorolla does not make this a “Google product”. They still separate their creations from Motorolla definitively because they make their own line of phones called Nexus. Did you notice that the Nexus 5 was made by LG ?

    • Paul Taylor

      Isn’t the Moto X a proven Google-era success?

      • JointhePredacons

        Nope. Its not a “google product” Google simply owns them. If Google made a phone it would be worlds better than the “**** X”

      • h4rr4r

        Is it a success at all?
        It is a midrange spec device at a high end price and I have not seen a single one outside of a store. The Verizon version is the same bootloader locked not getting updates nonsense as always, only AT&T got motomaker out of the gate. Looks like same old Moto to me.

    • http://www.sunbeltryders.com/ Toasty

      Or maybe Lego?

  • Aaron Sua

    Now if we can get android closer to being an OS and less of a ROM we’ll be sitting pretty.

    I also worry a little bit about what happens when I drop the phone. Right now I get three pieces: phone, battery door, battery. I’ll want a really solid chassis or the best phone case ever. ;-)

    • Paul Taylor

      Yeah but just think – if you dent the corner of your phone, or (shock horror) smash the screen, you wouldn’t have to replace the whole thing!

      • Aaron Sua

        Absolutely! I’m just saying I don’t treasure the idea of having to hunt down 10 or more pieces of phone. ;-)

        • Paul Taylor

          Yep – and in a puddle, and when you’re on a night out lol…

  • Dean Masley

    YESSSS! I’m so happy the PhoneBlok concept carried on to a real carrier! The fact that we have to replace whole phones every 2 years is so clumsy and wasteful. I’d love to be able to constantly upgrade my phone with new hardware and pieces to improve it’s function!

  • leocal79

    This makes sense. We don’t just throw our computers away and our phones are basically a computer. We upgrade our computers and same goes for our phones if this takes off. Instead of getting new phones we can upgrade our cases. They just need to make the lines were the parts separate less visible

    • Scott Brio

      I’d happily take a ‘double-thick’ version of the phone if it meant I could stack processors and batteries.

  • Paul Taylor

    Love it! But waiting for someone to pipe up about fragmentation lol…

    • EarlyMon

      It’s going to cause fragmentation. Think of the children. My aunt makes a million dollars a day on the internet with an iPhone. I think if you hit one of these with a hammer, it’ll create even more fragmentation. I fragmented a coconut with a hammer once, so it’s true.

      Therefore – Motorola is coconuts and my aunt would never approve because of the fragmentation.

  • John Andrew Stuart

    Genius!

  • forrestmacgregor

    Still see some challenges. The idea is to prevent obsolescence via modularity, but what it looks like to me is increased connector count, limits in performance due to block interfaces, volumetric issues (need more volume or less volume than a given block provides for something unforseen), regulatory issues (these units work in aggregate and become unintentional radiators. can they be type accepted if modular?). The biggest, IMO, is the issue of interconnects. Interconnects are where failures happen in 90% of the things I have troubleshot/fixed in 40 years. We are adding many, many potential failure points with this approach. I remain highly skeptical, and more than willing to be proven wrong, as always.

    • Pat

      Are the interconnects issue that you generally ones that have frequent connecting and disconnecting, or are you seeing problems with interconnects that are generally constant and see very little movement.

      • forrestmacgregor

        pat… i see both. some contacts have self-cleaning features that come into play if they are removed/reinserted, but that’s limited and somewhat offset by general wear from removal/reinsertion. others suffer general environmental intrusions from dirt, humidity, oxidation and dissimilar metal issues. movement, of course, is a problem for conductors, generally. note how many times you’ll see a laptop display work only if it’s positioned just so. Or a switch on an old stereo that has to be wiggled just a little. or a microwave whose ‘start’ button quits working. remote controls with maddeningly non-functioning buttons. contact surfaces and moving parts are just problem places. that’s not to say these things can’t be overcome, but each contact surface is a component, and when you have a whole lot of them in one device, each represents an opportunity for failure. it’s one reason why we strive to minimize parts counts on a bill of materials in a design. (there are other reasons for that, too.) one notable example from the 70′s when i was in graduate school and fixing TVs for income… almost every module returned to RCA for repair from their XL100 modular TV chassis was good. (I was tight with the RCA designers at the time.) they suspected that it was due to connector issues. simply removing a module and re-inserting it would have as much effect as replacing it. since then, i make it a habit when troubleshooting to do exactly that…. wiggle the connectors and reseat them. works surprisingly often.

        • Pat

          My question was, given that these pieces are not designed to be inserted and removed regularly (like the charger), and that there is little room for movement (unlike a cable that can be stressed, pulled, etc.), I would expect the rate of failure on the connectors to be similar to that of something like a video card in a gaming desktop computer that someone upgraded ever 6 months to a year.

          • forrestmacgregor

            could be. a phone isn’t a benign environment. good design can help, but as a universal rule, the more parts, the worse, the more connectors, the worse. how long do you want a block-like phone to last? 2 years? 8? 15? 25? If only 2, this approach doesn’t make sense. If 8, I think the entire concept would be obsoleted. Check out the most advanced cellphone from 8 years ago compared to an average smartphone of today. Extend that line 8 years. 15-25 is well outside the bounds of reason. 15 years ago, you could buy a new VCR. 25 you could still buy 8 tracks. At time scales like this, modularity seems pretty fantastic.

    • TheDrizzle

      I agree. But I’m going to remain optimistic. Maybe they start super simple, with only a few interchangeable blocks and then iterate on that. You gotta give Moto credit for being willing to tackle this concept.

      • forrestmacgregor

        i’m with you, there TheDrizzle. Hats off to all innovators. I have a lot of respect for Motorola chops.

  • Shawn_Locke

    Somebody pinch me! Is this really happening?

  • TheScientists

    It’s…..happening….

  • David W

    I like the thought here. given that standard interfaces between modules and the “endo” are established early, I think this could work.

    My real question is this…. what does this do to the carriers? What I mean is that they do profit from phones purchased on contract and upgrades. With this idea, there is less of an incentive for customers to upgrade on a regular basis when they can just go online and order a faster processor when it comes out.

    On the other hand, carriers can sell modules in the store, but I doubt they can keep prices low enough to remain competitive.

    Do you think that different manufacturers will allow interoperability? Or will we be held hostage to brand loyalty. To be truly “open-hardware” I would love to see a Motorola “endo” with an HTC camera, a Samsung processor, etc. And yes I’m just pulling stuff out of the air. I just think it needs to be up to the customer to truly pick and choose if this is to succeed.

    Thoughts?

    • Deeb0524

      It was my understanding that service providers pretty much break even on phone sales and make money on service plans, accessories, insurances, etc.

      • EarlyMon

        A lot of people pay over $2k over the course of two years in subsidized phone contracts – or – at least that was the number at one point.

        However it works, I’m sure the accounting says they break even but reality may be other, imo.

    • disqus_7zCKYC2BSD

      I don’t see carriers liking this idea too much. If they did come out with it i bet they would find some kind of sneaky way to profit off customers. Greed has no limits.

      • http://openid.aol.com/someguy1234567890 someone

        I bet each carriers will want a locked-to-this carrier block. You’ll get the key to remove this block after the 2 year contract is over….. :(

    • Jeff Adams

      I think service providers actually lose money on phone sales, which is why phones are quadruple the cost if you don’t sign up for a two year contract.

    • Scott Brio

      They should merely charge a reasonable fee for their monthly service provided. Being that their hardware will now be resolved to a dongle more or less, they’ll have less leverage in strong-arming the customer to being locked in to their wireless plans. I for one, am super excited to be able to build my phone like PC :)

    • spicymeatball

      Nothing would stop anyone from building a block for the phone, as long as drivers can be installed.

  • Matt Dorana

    THis seems oddly related :
    http://mashable.com/2013/09/11/phonebloks/

    • Montisaquadeis

      He is working with Motorola on this project if you would read the arcticle and the motorola article they link to

    • RodFarva

      dude, read the article.

    • Matt Dorana

      As I did. it was more of joke reference. Based on the original article placed that the news was to be released on oct 29.

    • http://openid.aol.com/someguy1234567890 someone

      Try reading the article.

  • EarlyMon

    Aside from the fact that all of us are only going to buy the high end modules for everything, this is a great idea.

    • Kellen Dunkelberger

      Except you’d be able to choose features.
      You don’t need a big camera? Get more battery etc.. (at least this is what i hope for)

      • EarlyMon

        I need the big camera. I need the high end module for everything.

        • http://serendipity.ruwenzori.net/ Jean-Marc Liotier

          Then you’ll learn to compromise.

          • EarlyMon

            Like I’ve been doing all along. :)

          • http://serendipity.ruwenzori.net/ Jean-Marc Liotier

            So far I have always compromised on battery life, but I’m now swinging the other way: features are useless without available energy…

        • JBrowne1012

          A Full frame sensor would be absolutely amazing or even aps-c on the same level as dslrs now would be amazing.

  • Thomas Juma

    Its about damn time. And I hope they stick to the original Phoneblok design. Things like the ability to get rid of stuff people don’t use and just replace those component blocks with one big battery block would be awesome.

  • jpchopper

    obviously it was a great idea for them to take on the phone blocks guy. Sure we’ll all jump at the high end blocks, but there’s a lot of options this way. Don’t need NFC? don’t pay for it. Want IR capability so you can use your phone as a remote? done.
    Better screen? trade it in. Projector module? better camera/new type of memory/ something new not invented?
    Really hope they go with this, sell it with an external shell, and with the right advertising this can be a revolution in phones.

    • Abstract

      Yes it would!

      Imagine a chosen processor (Exynos, Snapdragon, Tegra) a screen made by one manufacturer (Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC), speakers by another (Bose, Kicker, Beats), and a camera from another (Sony, Nikon, Canon) to form your perfect idea of what a phones specs should be.

      All those are hypothetical options

  • nexus_bytes

    As long as these phones have swappable radios, I’m in. This would allow you to use any phone on any carrier – just swap the radio. No more carrier contracts – reduce the carriers to being what they really are – a service provider (read: data pipe).

    • Xilence

      Indeed, I can upgrade the parts that I feel are bogging me down without having to buy an entirely new phone. This will save money and make so many things simpler.

  • Abstract

    It is quite a surprise to see something like this actually happening. Good luck Motorola!

  • http://oli.me.uk/ Oliver Caldwell

    Please define a standard. Without a standard sizing and connecting method this whole idea is going to turn into a mush of proprietary parts and adapters that may well kill it. If this works in the same was as a desktop PC though, I’ll definitely get in on it.

    We need less of this stupid use it for a year and get a new one mentality, I’d much rather upgrade parts as I go along and maybe eventually upgrade the core component. In the case of a PC, this would be like keeping the motherboard and case while swapping out bits inside. Eventually you have to upgrade your motherboard, but not for a good few years.

    I really like the idea, I just hope it’s executed well and every company that copies this (because they will if there is money in it) follows a standard.

    • Brandon Joseph Kelly

      I am thinking you guys are forgetting the developers are software and hardware engineers. They know what they are doing as far as a form factor goes. Just let them work their magic and get a beta version out first.

  • http://pfoct.blogspot.com/ James Knauer

    Interesting idea, terrible form-factor. Not innovative, and not where things are headed, which is more organic shapes, curves, and intelligent fabrics.

    • Eric Espejo

      As the saying in design goes “form follows function,” make it work, then make it look good.

    • red rover

      and what makes you think this. Also, this isn’t innovative? Please give 3 examples of what you find to be innovative then. I’m curious.

      • http://pfoct.blogspot.com/ James Knauer

        You demand three examples! Why not four? Actually, why not 30 or 31 so you can then run a statistical analysis?

        Or maybe you could educate yourself on what mobile manufacturing companies are spending their R&D dollars, and then come back and make other unreasonable demands.

  • Jacob

    I’m just wondering how differently android would need to be written for this to work? Might we see something related to it in KitKat’s architecture… currently as with custom roms, there seems to be a slightly different version of android necessary for compatibility with each individual phone.

    Android also seems to be built for the ‘state of the art’ hardware. Older phones stick with older android so I’d really like to see android become scalable too. Imagine if a stripped down version of android continued to be developed and perfected 5 years after being released with only minor changes of hardware along the way.

    That’d also stand to make the custom rom game a WHOLE lot easier…

    • JBrowne1012

      But that doesn’t really even happen in the computer world, You HAVE to upgrade every couple of years, Like how theres different types of memory slots from ddr to ddr 3 different processors different system compatibilities.

      • Jacob

        Sure, but not the question I was posing: that for android to be adaptable enough to just switch bits of hardware in and out, might it have to be structured a differently (I imagine it’d be a bad idea to bake in support within android for every possible 3rd party hardware module), and as a side-effect of needing to be more streamlined this could provide more backwards compatibility of android. It seems at least possible to me.

  • EarlyMon

    Will Verizon epoxy in a bloatware module?

    • OtisJay

      they would likely at lest try.

    • Covert_Death

      i bet the carrier will be a certain chip… like pick GSM/LTE or sprint or verizon… which probably means that it will be unsubsidized and direct from manufacturer

      • Steve

        Nah, Verizon will just make you buy their radio module with a contract and bundle it with a module with a slow CPU and limited RAM.

  • http://www.unitedconsumers.com/gsm/ Peter van Udenhout

    I already assigned to participate at the project. It looks like a great phone to me and I am curious for the projects they have with it.

  • Caim

    This was expected long ago. Google acquired Modu’s patents in 2011.

  • Joe Janisse

    Nice

  • Brandon Joseph Kelly

    Hope this project turns out well. Goodluck to Google Motorola.

  • guitarist5122

    The back of the phoneblocks looks much better. The lines separating the components are hideous

    • iamgog

      Too bad that the Phonebloks was impossible in a technical sense.

    • red rover

      if you see the image, the blocks are dovetailed into the grids. This keeps them in place and won’t all out. This however limits the size of the modules that are going in. In the phonebloks video, they show people putting in different sized blocks based on what you want. this won’t be possible with this. However, this is an awesome idea, and I would definitely get it,

  • Nick

    Not hating on this news whatsoever. I think this would be pretty amazing. But what about those people who aren’t too tech savvy (like me lol) that don’t really understand what modules are, fragmentation stuff, switching this piece out with another piece or whatever the case may be like. Would anyone have any idea how this would be user friendly to those who aren’t very experienced with phone/computer stuff? For me, I can see myself in a sea of confusion with an instructions manual spread out, eyes cross eyed, and my brain hurting trying to figure out how to work it lol. Again, not hating at all. Just a humbled question looking for an answer to this. I’m probably not making any sense haha hopefully someone can point me in the right direction. Thanks

    • Steve

      I think these should be as easy as those Duplo blocks. You know, the ones they give to 3 year-olds cause they’re like legos that are too big to swallow?

      Want to take a picture? You need a camera module. Want to make a call? Need a radio module. Want the phone to turn on? Need a battery module. Battery dead? Better have a charging module.

    • Ryan Kaufman

      I imagine it will be like going to a smoothie place that has you pick out everything
      You want:
      Yogurt
      Ice
      Fruit(s)
      Juice?
      Size of cup
      Miscellaneous

      With the yogurt, you can pick the sweetest, creamiest yogurt ever, or just their healthier option, or whatever they happen to have depending on how picky you are.

      With ice, it’s not that big, just how smooth to slushie you want it (they might tell you a rough estimate of how much ice goes to each property; “You want this much ice to make it smooth”)

      With fruit, you just pick any and all fruits you can fit in the cup.

      Add some orange juice to help out, or don’t. It’s not needed.

      Pick the size of your cup, and maybe add some protein powder (miscellaneous) and your smoothie is done.
      ————————————————————-
      Now just move this to a phone. Rather than ice you have a harddrive. Rather than fruit you have RAM. Rather than yogurt you have a processor, etc.

    • g1i1ch

      That’s why they pay guys like me to tell them what to get.

    • moorkaï

      I guess there ought to be some prebuilt smartphones and appropriate dealers*, just like it’s with desktop computers (i.e. Alienware, Compaq, IBM, Gateway, etc. on one side and DIY rigs on the other side). This way people who aren’t really into that stuff wouldn’t need to go through the complications of building their own functional modular smartphone themselves, although we can only speculate how things are going to go.

      * – as well as guys like g1i1ch which could potentially do the hard work for you in exchange for some cash

  • http://btlr.com/ Jacob

    When can I get it?

    Seriously, I believe it will be a very interesting “constructor”. And a lot of new opportunities too. For example, a custom hardware module + application to utilise it.

  • hemipw54

    When you drop it it will look like those crash’em cars and fly into pieces.

    • PrincessPeanut

      They’ll market it along with a reboot of the “Crash Dummies” toys.

  • Shaun Heath

    It will be great fun looking for all the pieces when I drop it…

    • matt

      This will actually prevent the phone from actually breaking though, the force will get spread out by all those little pieces. Great idea actually.

      • Mike

        Where is your data for this? It seems it would be the opposite, since whatever component hits the floor would take all of the force.

        • frale

          i think the “data” you’re looking for is the laws of physics

          • Mike

            Aww, it’s so cute when you guys try to know science. Nice try ;)

          • JointhePredacons

            How could you know the laws of physics for a device that hasnt even been created yet.

        • JointhePredacons

          Agreed. Whatever piece contacts the concrete or floor will bear the brunt of the impact. Unless the phone is encased in a protective case around the phone.

      • Queefsniffer

        actually you have to actually the actually first. then, and only then, you can actually.

  • john clayton

    Leggo phones,just what everyone needs.

  • ac

    Even though it isn’t the greatest looking thing, the concept is great! I was willing to give Google a couple years, until they fully integrated themselves into the Motorola world and if they started this a year ago, the 2 year mark could prove to be the turnaround for Motorola…finally. And I’d be inclined to listen for sure.

  • simpleas

    The only issue I find might be, every year, the upgrades will require an update to another existing part to fully take advantage of the advancements. In other words, you might have to buy 2 or more components at once to really upgrade, or buy a new phone every year to ” really really” upgrade. I gues what im trying to say is, the phone by it’s nature is witholding tech advancements at the cost of being able to upgrade modules. Well have to see. pretty cool tho.

    • Leslie Dawson

      This could be really good as long as we don’t let biitches have free reigns of their phones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejSq-_NzAps

    • DMG

      I think that argument cuts both ways.

      Yes, there will be some cases when you need to upgrade two components at once to get the benefit of either, but there will also be cases where you can upgrade just one component instead of buying a whole new phone.

      My current phone is still going strong, but the internal storage is too small. I still love the screen/camera/speaker/etc. though – I don’t really want to spend money replacing those.

      If I could upgrade just the storage for $100, that’s a net win for a consumer like me. If they can pull this off, of course.

  • James Roberts

    I don’t see this happening. The modules are each going to need their own transceiver, which is going to drive up the price. They are never going to have the newest components, and making each component be in its own module means that these phones are going to be bulkier. The endoskeleton will have a limited lifespan, probably two years or so, before it is replaced by one capable of higher speed interconnects. So, how big of a market can there possibly be for this? These phones are going to be bigger, heavier, slower, AND more expensive than their competitors. When you’re ready to take advantage of its unique capabilities, your endoskeleton will already be obsolete.

    • imchillyb

      People flamed Android before its release as well. It is now the world’s number one mobile Operating System.

      Also, Motorola typically does not work on ‘going nowhere’ projects.

      • Trent

        Sure they do. It’s not like the entire company works on one project at a time…

      • http://www.twitter.com/zlasher Michael Chan

        Are you comparing hardware to software?

      • JointhePredacons

        Its sad how Motorollas horrendous history got erased in the minds of people as soon as Google bought them. Before the purchase ,whenever a new Droid premiered the entire mobile community went “Meh, another Droid” then Google bought them and it became “Ooooh, Ahhh, Awesome”. Its hypocrisy.

    • DMG

      I’m not convinced that the interconnects would have such aggressive obsolescence. USB has had excellent staying power for adding modular components to PCs – implementing a similarly flexible interface should be possible in a new generation of phones.

      • James Roberts

        Ok, looking into this a bit further, they would need about 5 Gbit/s full-duplex in the initial rev. That’s within the capabilities of USB 3.0. I don’t see an immediate need for much more than that, as long as CPU and video are integrated. So, maybe you’re right. Perhaps phones have matured to the point where an endoskeleton could be stable for five years or so.

    • JBrowne1012

      If its anyone that could do it its Google. Who cares if the price is driven up?

    • Dr. Droid

      I guess you never built a PC yourself before. The up front cost might be more but in the long run you can save money. You can replace parts as needed and when you wanted. Replacing one part of the phone wouldn’t cost more than getting a new phone. Beside, it’s always nice to be in control what you want in a phone. The phone def isn’t for the general public but it will be great for a lot of advanced users.

  • earth

    Lego my Moto

  • bbcrisp03
    • JointhePredacons

      If it were actually Google doing it.

      • Richard Fang

        motorola is a google company

        • Issak Etrheim

          I hope you can download different operating systems ’cause I don’t like android

          • Joe Palozzi

            ubuntu work for you?

  • Robert Moss

    “ala” is not a word

    • Betasync

      ???

  • Steven Berger

    I am surprised and anxious to see how this will turn out. Although, interestingly enough, wasn’t this one of the rumors of what the Moto X would be? The rumors of being able to pick the hardware in your device. At least they are looking to actually bring it to reality.

  • McChesney Emanuel

    Motorola has always been innovative not always the highest quality but always innovative. This speaks to that, but I know many will be wary due to the fact that Motorola often excites as much as they disappoint. Already many are pointing out that Motorola’s track record is of concern, and that Google’s ownership doesn’t guarantee higher quality. That said this project is far too good, and too big a stride in the right direction for me to criticize. The implications for consumers and control over your own hardware is a grand prize for us all. Dependent on the pricing and availability of quality choices in terms of hardware, even if it isn’t marketed or received as such, it may be the most important break through in the industry.

  • Benjamin Mackie

    Please tell me they gave the phoneblocks guy some money

    • JBrowne1012

      Being as its says they’ve partnered with phoneblocks I would assume so.

      • Benjamin Mackie

        Hadnt had a chance to watch the video until just now, but thanks!

  • http://www.elijahlynn.net/ Elijah Lynn

    What a great video!

  • Jacob

    Kit Kats are kinda modular :) “Have a break, have a module”

  • steveb944

    Wow I didn’t think this was possible when I first heard of it, but Moto actually has one built! Freaking amazing. I can’t wait to see this release.

    • AbbyZFresh

      This is probably the real reason why Google acquired Motorola. The potential talent they have. If they can pull this Phonebloks project off what many engineers claim is impossible and complex to do. They may just get themselves out of debt.

  • Vont Walls

    R.I.P Samsung Galaxy and iPhone.

  • teek

    A fixed display front with 4 parts on the back which are excangeable
    - camera – front and rear in one block, so the compelte depth of the phone can be used for the lense (at the top)
    - batery (in the middle)
    - processor / memory / internal flash memory (at the bottom)
    - sim – gsm/lte/… (left or right of the camera)
    would be enough for me.

    so i could change the processor every year, and have an exanceable batery :)

    • A_Noyd

      Not a fixed display, That would be replaceable too.

    • Arran MacInnes

      Never though about the batteries…You could just carry a butch with you if you’re fair away from electricity to charge it.

  • Dr. Droid

    Now I’m excited for it :D you def need a case for the phone otherwise if you drop it… all the components will go flying XD

    • Betasync

      nah, they shouldn’t go out so easily.

      • Dr. Droid

        I hope not, but I’m still gonna get a case bc I want to protect it :D

  • Betasync

    awesome idea
    also, the phone looks beautiful!

  • Caezar07

    I feel like I need to apologize for bashing phoneblocks in the comments section of the article posted a month or so ago, and for giving every reason in the world for why it wasn’t feasible. It seems that some really smart people at Motorola think otherwise.

  • Trance Freaks

    This will not work. Especially in Australia where most people are on a
    24 month contract, with a phone upgrade to the latest model every time
    you re sign the contract.

  • Arran MacInnes

    I freaking love the design and the idea. I hope it works and the “blocks” aren’t too pricey

  • Azmon Rougier

    i just pissed myself…

  • Ara Jordan

    And I’M freaking out about the name. Bloody thieves….

  • moorkaï

    This is sick! Shut up and take my money (ya know, that meme with Fry from Futurama)! All in all, this could be really awesome if Motorola doesn’t screw things up again with their bootloader locking BS, and if it comes out cheaper than changing your smartphone every insert-your-phone-changing-period. Also it should of course have some sturdy way of fastening modules (blocks), not some springy thingy.

    P.S. I sincerely hope this project won’t have the same fate Ubuntu Edge had.

  • Noah Pierson

    Just need an actual backing that covers up all the individual modules. Don’t want someone simply sliding out the new 40 megapixel camera I just upgraded to and running off with it lol. I guess you could always have some sort of software tag embedded in the modules so you can lock them to only work on your endoskeleton though.