Google's Ara Phone Promises to Provide Exactly the Phone You Need

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2014-04-16 Print this article Print

Gillette earned profits by selling razor blades. Or it could be that the basic Ara is a phone that nobody would want, expect perhaps in the developing word.

It would seem that there will be a great temptation for Google (or whoever actually makes and sells the Ara phones) to raise the device's price to a much higher point while making consumers think they're getting the deal of the century. After all, Google knows exactly what each of us wants the most, and the ability to exactly configure a phone to meet our greatest desires could make them unbeatable in the marketplace.

For corporate customers, the Ara could be a godsend. No longer would your company have to buy phones with features you will never need without getting exactly the features that you want.

For corporate use, the Ara could effectively bring an end to the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon—at least for some companies, since you supposedly specify and get a mobile device that does exactly what you want and nothing else. Why put up with the loss of control over data and wireless resources that comes with all of those iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices? In some industries, this could work very well, especially for companies that currently issue aging recycled BlackBerrys because they need the security. Now those companies could get a security module for their phones.

But, of course, there's a potential downside, perhaps several downsides. The modules as Google has proposed them would be held in place with magnets. But suppose an employee decides they want to swap out the company-owned security module for a camera and take photos in the development lab? How would you ever find out?

Clearly, with a modular phone such as the Ara, there would need to be some way to enforce asset control over the basic phone and each installed or assigned module. There would also need to be a means of controlling what modules could be installed on specific phones. For example, you don't want to allow a camera module to be installed into the phone of an employee whose phone is used in sensitive areas, and you might want to prevent a module for recording sound on a phone of an employee who was going into a confidential staff meeting.

In concept, the idea of the Ara modular phone is great, but the actual phones need to be handled in a way that still makes sense and protects the company's assets.

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