Skip to main content

The guy who inspired the modular Ara phone says Google can do better

The guy who inspired the modular Ara phone says Google can do better

Share this story


You might remember Dave Hakkens as the young Dutch designer behind the Phonebloks concept video. A video that went viral back in 2013 and currently registers almost 22 million views. It was this outpouring of support for Hakkens’ modular, upgradeable phone meant to help eliminate electronic waste that led Motorola (then owned by Google) to launch project Ara. Well, a lot has happened since then and Hakkens is not a fan of the latest developments. Google "could do better," he says on a post to his personal site.

Hakkens’ criticism is two fold. First he’s not happy to see Google taking so much control over the development of the Ara modules:

"…it isn’t truly open. Everything happens under the umbrella of Google. They are in charge, they make the rules. They can decided to suddenly change the connectors, or design. Making all previous modules you have obsolete. It’s a powerful ecosystem which shouldn’t be in the hands of one organisation."

He’s also unhappy with Ara’s reliance on a frame which is essentially a stripped-down phone with embedded display, battery, CPU, GPU, and antenna:

"It means your phone still gets obsolete after a while. What if your screen breaks? Well you still need to replace the entire phone. And after a couple of years it gets slow and you need to replace your entire skeleton."

Hakkens’ advice to Google, or any other company willing to take on a truly modular phone is pretty simple:

"Don’t focus on making the next phone that sells, but focus on making the future phone. Truly a phone for the entire world…"