Imagine a world where you could make your technology do whatever you want and cater it to your specific wants and if your needs change, a specific aspect of your devices could change with it. Google’s Project Ara could very well be the first step in the realization of this idea. Project Ara is a module smartphone, meaning that each aspect of the phone from the screen to the battery size, to the camera, to the processor can be customized to need and budget.
Project Ara’s goal is to allow the remaining 5 billion people without a smartphone to have potential access to one. The “endoskeleton”, which is what Project Ara calls the basic gray phone in which the modules can be used customize will only cost $50, and modules will, in theory, range from extremely cheap to top of the line products. This means the last phone you ever buy could only cost $50 and then all the modifications are freely upgradable and very easily interchanged. This idea, maybe not this specific project, but this idea could change everything about the consumer technology industry. It could easily, almost without adjustment, be transferred to tablets and possibly laptops as well.
You may wonder what the difference is between this project and people who build their own computers? The difference is very simple, these phones are good looking and with 3D printing lending a hand to design the can look any way you would like them to. And the main, wide appeal it has, is ease of use. The modules slip in and out and they do not have special connectors or anything else that would make the customization more complicated. That, coupled with the price and potentially superior performance is why this could be the future of smartphones.
Now, taking the idea a little further, think of a la carte media consumption ecosystem. A TV, a media streaming device and then subscriptions to media you care about. This is somewhat possible now with a Roku, Netflix, Hulu, and the many other channels, but there is one very big thing missing. This one thing could destroy the standard cable industry in less than 5 years as well. That is channel subscriptions. I know there are millions of people out there, myself included, that are so frustrated with cable providers that any good reason to get rid of them and there would be no hesitation. If each channel cost $3.99-$5.99 a month and they could be live streamed through a media streaming device with access at all times each consumer would probably only subscribe to 5-10 channels at a time and they would be rid of the immense frustration of dealing the middle man between entertainment creators and consumers, cable companies.
What this entire idea boils down to is that customers should have access to the technology or the media they want without having excess things that just simply profit the medium at which the consumers purchase the products. Is this concept for everyone? Definitely not, some people want a package deal, but others will see the benefit to having a base device with a literal infinite amount of customization options. The same holds true with the media consumption, some will want a cable package with hundreds of channels, but I think many will want a few channels on a subscriptions basis that can be changed or traded at will and that idea could revolutionize the entire industry.