A little over a month ago a new idea gripped the web. Phonebloks wasn’t just a completely new idea, it was cool and inspiring. What was introduced online as a working concept soon garnered huge interest across the globe, as people took to the idea of being able to upgrade their mobile device freely without having to fork out for a new phone whenever they wanted to upgrade.
What is Phonebloks? Well, basically it is a modular phone. Device components (RAM, storage, display etc) come supplied on individual ‘bloks’ which you then attach to a main board; a filled main board then constitutes a working phone. ‘Bloks’ can be switched out and replaced whenever you want, so if you want to upgrade your phone display, camera, or processor, you are able to without having to fork out the cash for a whole brand new phone. It is the phone you can build like Lego.
When the idea was first flaunted, no one thought it would take off, not even Dave Hakkens, the man who came up with the concept. Hakkens was aiming for 500 people to sign up for his Thunderclap when he first posted his idea, but it has become much more than that; the video he first posted online has amassed over 17 million views alone.
It is one thing gaining consumer support, and another luring in manufacturers to take the idea on. Motorola, however, have stood up and announced they themselves have been working on their own version of Phonebloks for nearly a year already, codenamed Project Ara. Now, both Phonebloks and Motorola are working together to bring the idea to market.
Motorola say they want to do with Phonebloks what Android has done with software. It is a very cool idea, and is something different when everything looks a bit like an iPhone rip-off. But as to whether it will work in the consumer market, we will have to wait and see; can a modular phone compete with rival devices like the Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5S? Can this revolutionise the market?
Haken believes the real challenge that lies before Phonebloks and Motorola is much more fundamental than that however: “The challenge is to make it actually work.”