The death of Google’s ‘Project Ara’ underscores Apple’s iPhone advantage

Recode has reported that Google is giving up on Project Ara, its attempt at a modular smartphon,” Mark Hibben writes for Seeking Alpha. “I had observed back in May that Ara represented a misapplication of PC concepts of expandability to a market that cared more about reliability and portability. Apple’s concept of a beautifully integrated mobile device, the iPhone, has been vindicated. Google’s decision is an acknowledgment of this and more: the entire personal computing industry is seeing a paradigm shift to the type of mobile device Apple pioneered.”

“The personal computing industry is undergoing a very fundamental set of transformations. Mobile devices have become the focus of most personal computing needs. Even as the traditional PC market declines, the smartphone market continues to grow,” Hibben writes. “With the shift to mobile has come a fundamental shift in business model. Rapidly becoming obsolete is the PC OEM model of separate operating system, processor, and PC box providers. The dominant mobile device makers such as Apple, Samsung, and Huawei have become much more integrated.”

“Apple has become the most integrated, which I consider to be a fundamental competitive advantage for the company. Apple controls the operating system design, the processor design, and the device design. No other of Apple’s competitors has that level of integration,” Hibben writes. “The failure of Ara, and the ongoing issues with Android device and OS fragmentation, the difficulty of delivering timely Android OS upgrades through the OEMs, all these factors serve as a tremendous vindication of Apple’s business model.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yup.

• Apple’s control of the whole widget (hardware+operating system] guarantees as seamless an experience as possible for Mac users. Those using Windows have no such guarantee. Over time, no matter how little you value your time, the Apple Mac is less expensive than Windows, even if it did cost a little more upfront. The more you value your time, the quicker the Mac saves you money versus Windows. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is perhaps the most overlooked idea by the vast majority of PC buyers. It’s as close to all-important an idea as you can get when it comes to purchasing decisions, yet it somehow goes completely ignored by most people! The exact same idea holds true for iPod+iTunes vs. also-ran digital music player trying to interact with somebody else’s struggling online music outfit. Control of the whole widget always was, and still is, one of Apple’s main advantages. — MacDailyNews, April 30, 2006

• Vertical integration simply gives the user a superior experience, just look at the Mac, iPod, iPhone, and very soon, iPad, for proof. — MacDailyNews, March 26, 2010

• The Apple wannabes and those who settle for knockoffs are coming to a sad realization. There’s only one master of vertical integration in technology: Apple. And they have a nearly 40-year head start.MacDailyNews Take, June 7, 2014

• The more vertical integration, the better! So-called competitors will only fall further and further behind. — MacDailyNews, December 19, 2015

Apple’s executive changes hint at an even greater level of vertical integration to come – December 19, 2015
Microsoft finally realizes that Steve Jobs was right all along – October 30, 2015
Samsung will never overcome Apple’s advantage in mobile device profitability – July 30, 2015
Why Google and Microsoft couldn’t emulate the Apple mobile device model – July 9, 2015
J.P. Morgan analyst prefers ‘vertically integrated’ approach like Apple’s in smartphone market – March 26, 2010
Apple’s vertically integrated Mac could make interim Wintel model look like a detour – April 25, 2008
Apple has proven that vertical integration works better – October 24, 2006
Apple was right all along: vertical market quality trumps horizontal market woes – April 30, 2006


  1. I’m suspecting Google campus will need to implement a major expansion to their campus. I’m most certain their ‘failed project room’ is getting overfilled with their infinitely crappy ideas😉

  2. Yeah. But there are a lot of android phones out there. And apple still makes stupid mistakes like putting the power button opposite the volume buttons on the 6.

    I like my 6 (unless I have to do any typing) but I carry a big backup charger with me at all times.

    Google is making money from android. Apple is making money from phones. They both have silly ideas every now and then but everyone is better off with the competition between them.

    1. I agree about the power button. I thought they fixed it so that hitting volume and power will shut the power down, but apparently that still exists. In my eyes that was a grand f-up. Especially when taking a screen shot, I keep reaching the top end of the iPhone.

      1. Well, you’re an idiot then, aren’t you? Yes you are! There’s a good widdle bay-bee. Wudgie-budgie coochie coo! Does bay-bee wanna widdle sucker in their mouth to calm down and stop cwying? Poor widdle bay-bee. Coochie coochie coo!

    2. I agree about the power button location; it’s very annoying. But my 6 Plus has great battery life and I’m really enjoying it since I subscribed to Apple Music.

  3. What was truly amazing was the number of propellerheads who thot this was an amazing idea. The idea of a “modular phone was braindead from the beginning.

    The modularity was in the SOFTWARE, doofuses.

    You have this simple slab of glass and metal in your pocket and the apps can make it into anything you want it to be. The apps make it modular, not the hardware!

    1. Most of the prop-heads believe in having a smartphone like the Transformers is a great idea. I was waiting for the Kitchen Sink module and Toilet module to change my life. All the tech-heads said that modular smartphone was so innovative but that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be a great product to own.

  4. Project Ara was interesting but I don’t know why so many people thought it would be some huge game-changer to put the iPhone out of business. How many people did they think would be going to be buying extra modules to swap in and out? I don’t doubt some diehard tech-head would invest money into collecting all the modules but I’d hardly think the average consumer would be interested in doing something like that. That’s OK. Google got its free pass for being more innovative than Apple and now the project will simply fade quietly into oblivion without any deafening shouts of failure like any Apple product would get.

    I don’t get any joy out of the Ara project dying. I wanted to see how consumers would take to it. I just didn’t think it would be all that special. Modular components worked for DSL cameras, so it was possible it would work for smartphones. So far, Alphabets projects aren’t producing profitable results but I guess that doesn’t bother investors who keep happily buying the stock.

    1. I think a happy medium between what Handspring did with its Springboard modules and what Google was attempting with Project Ara would still be a good idea. Project Ara simply had too many parts to be a successful consumer product.

  5. I get the impression that google just plays at business whereas Apple is business and makes all the money.

    Google is like a pre-school nursery, employing people with now idea of what a great idea is, if I was a shareholder I would wondering when are they going to stop waiting millions and when will I see a return on my investment.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.