Despite the fact that both HTC and Samsung have shown some of their most important cards for all of 2014 (along with plenty of other companies), we know that there's more to look forward to. With HTC, we've probably got some One M8 variants (especially in color schemes) coming down the pipe, along with new gadgets like a wearable to wrap around our wrists. And then there's Samsung, which we know we can expect to see a whole plethora of new devices launched throughout the year.
If you haven't found your new handset for 2014 --or longer-- yet, there's no reason to fret. You'll find something, I'm sure, that will jump out at you by the end of the year. Whether it's Motorola, LG, either of the aforementioned companies, or even Apple, 2014's certainly not going to be a lackluster year for our favorite mobile gadgets.
But what about beyond 2014? Honestly, it looks even better.
Just look at the early announcement of Project Ara's expected launch date. We heard just a few days ago that Google has circled January 2015 as the intended launch date for their "gray phone." With the gray phone, you'll get a frame, the Wi-Fi radio and some type of display. The total (starter) package is said to cost right around $50, which seems like a nice starting point -- especially for what you're getting.
But, Project Ara is all about those individual pieces. So, while you get three pieces of the puzzle right out of the box, so to speak, you're going to have to include plenty of other blocks if you're looking for that full smartphone experience. You know the one I'm talking about. The experience you have right now, with the phone you've got in your pocket, or in your hand. The cellular radio, the camera on the back (and front!), RAM, and whatever other little details that manage to get customizable options when the final product launches.
Project Ara sounds amazing. I'm not going to tell you otherwise. While Motorola offered up a ton of customization options for their Moto X, this level of customization is something that the mobile industry could definitely use. If you'll recall, way way back in January of 2012, I wrote about the smartphone industry taking some cues from the auto industry, in that customers could choose which parts go into their phone, from the tiniest details, and then build that model to suit their needs.
It's great that we're finally getting there. Giving consumers the ability to "build their own phone" is awesome, and I can't help but be pretty dang excited about it. And I know I'm not the only one. Just reading through the comments sections on articles regarding Google's Project Ara (formerly Motorola's), the level of enthusiasm for what's coming is pretty high.
The thing is, I just can't see this really gaining any traction. At least, not right away. And it just comes down to a couple of things:
First, I believe most consumers just want to know they're getting an experience worth paying for. Sure, the consumer isn't building the parts themselves, but they are putting them together and trying to build the best phone for them. I can't help but think that many consumers would rather leave that up to HTC, or Samsung, or Apple. After all, they've been doing it long enough that they probably know a thing or two.
Second, this just looks like it could be something that gets really, really out of hand when it comes to cost. The $50 base point is great, but there's no telling how much the individual pieces are going to cost. I can't help but think that a 13-megapixel camera is going to cost (much) more than, say, an 8MP shooter. Or how about the price for RAM? Or, as we've seen in price hikes for cellular-connectivity in other devices already, how much will that radio cost us?
With that being said, these are small worries in my book. I think Project Ara is fantastic, and just having that customization available to us, and to see that that's where the industry might be headed, is pretty amazing. And I know that Google, as it's specific in their Project Ara MDK, wants to make sure that their Ara devices are comfortable to hold after being pieced together. I just hope that works out.
I want Project Ara to take off. I just think we all have to be ready for it to take some time, or even for the options to get limited over time, as consumers interact with the options presented them. It will definitely be interesting to see if something like this can really stand out, and even start replacing some of the "old-fashioned" phones out there.
Oh wow. Old-fashioned. Yeah, that'll be the day.
So, what do you think of Project Ara? Is this the new device you've been waiting for? Or would you prefer to go with something like the HTC One M8, or similar device? Let me know!