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Dieter Bohn of The Verge Profiles Project Ara, Google’s Modular Phone Project

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I remain highly skeptical that a modular design can compete in a product category where size, weight, and battery life are at such a premium. Even if they can bring something to market, why would any normal person be interested in a phone like this?

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larrydavis
3037 days ago
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Normal people used ticket scanners?
aaronwe
3037 days ago
Normal people didn't use smartphones 15 years ago.
aaronwe
3037 days ago
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If Gruber had bothered to RTFA, he'd see they address the modular overhead question directly:

"We think the crossover point is somewhere at the one-third overhead point," he argues, summing up all those issues into a single number. "We think we'll come in at about one-quarter, about 25 percent overhead."

In other words, will you take a phone that's 25% thicker for the same features, or maybe get rid of the camera in exchange for 25% better battery life? We know from the huge market for iPhone battery cases that a large number of buyers are perfectly happy to make their phone thicker if they don't have to recharge during the day.

Clearly normal people are interested in customizing their phones.
Denver
islandzero
3037 days ago
No, nerds are interested in customizing their phones. I just witnessed my sister buying a phone, two kids under fourty accountant. The guy at the shop was trying to woo her with specs of this specs of that. She ended up with an iPhone 5s (because my iphone 4 was great and this one is smaller). It wasn't until we were home that I showed her the fingerprint lock (which she probably wont use at the end of the day). She didn't give a shit, she wanted a decent enough camera (the 4 was good enough), sms, mail and a browser.
benzado
3037 days ago
"We think the crossover point is [ARBITRARY NUMBER WE MADE UP]. We think we'll come in at [A LITTLE BIT UNDER THAT]." Very few people build a PC from components any more. Who is going to do that with a phone? Modularity is going to come from devices that communicate with each other, probably over Bluetooth.
aaronwe
3037 days ago
islandzero: And what kind of case did your sister buy for her new phone? Nerds are interested in speccing out their phones, but consumers as a whole are VERY into personalizing their phones.
aaronwe
3037 days ago
benzado: If you RTFA, you'll see they're not anticipating people will build their phone from components, Newegg-style. They'll customize their phones after the fact. Right now, the nature of phones means people customize them using external bits. We've never given them the option to customize their phone's internals. Adding a radio to every phone accessory is even worse for battery life than modularizing the components. And I find it hard to believe that a data-driven company like Google is picking arbitrary numbers for thickness and overhead. Phones have hit a point where average screen size is going up, not down. There's still some downward pressure on thickness, but again, the market for Otterbox cases show a large number of consumers are happy to trade extra thickness for more functionality or protection.
larrydavis
3037 days ago
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springboard_Expansion_Slot
aaronwe
3037 days ago
Indeed, everything old is new again. PalmOS devices lasted a long time in some markets (ticket scanners) because of the expansion capabilities.
benzado
3037 days ago
You're pointing to examples of *accessories*, but I don't think anybody is saying there won't be a need for extra things you can connect to a basic device. But the idea that people are going to buy a phone and swap out parts is like buying a PC and upgrading components...
larrydavis
3037 days ago
Handspring was a turd other than in specific verticals. Ara is likely to also be a turd other than in a niche or specific verticals. People don't upgrade parts on their PCs. People don't upgrade parts on their cars. People don't upgrade parts, period, except for geeks and tinkerers. Ara will not have broad appeal.
aaronwe
3037 days ago
There's definitely a possibility that Ara will be bigger in verticals than among consumers. But I don't think you can assume that just because people buy accessories today, they WANT to buy accessories rather than upgrade their phone directly. It's not the same as opening up a PC case, breaking out the screwdriver, and swapping parts. The process of swapping modular bits on Ara is much more like plugging in an accessory.
Paraquat
3037 days ago
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Drinking game: a shot every time Gruber uses the word "market"
Paris
sashae
3037 days ago
I went to a mobile conference a looong time ago and a gentleman from Ericsson made a compelling case for the concept of a modular phone, where you'd carry a credit-card sized antenna/SIM dock and attach whatever accessories (a screen, a headset, etc) that you needed whenever, based on Bluetooth. It's not a crazy idea IMO.
islandzero
3037 days ago
Gruber has a very valid point, every one of those modules requires packaging in one form or another. We are talking about a press that is so hooked on specs including weight, size, etc. Not to mention that the average consumer could give two shits, they just want a phone that serves their needs and they don't want to build a puzzle. All this coming from a guy that loves the concept, I just don't see how it could work.
aaronwe
3037 days ago
I can see this being initially popular among enterprise clients -- custom security/authentication units, cameras/scanners, even extra radio chipsets (2-way, anyone?) that wouldn't fly in a mass-market unit. But if you're ordering devices on the scale of UPS or FedEx, being able to roll a custom phone is huge.

Are coders worth it?

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Relax, you're at work. Photo by Jason Madara/Gallery StockThere’s this great moment in the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) when the world’s most celebrated sushi chef turns to his son, who is leaving to start his own restaurant, and says: ‘You have no home to come back to.’ Which, when you think about it, isn’t harsh or discouraging but is in fact [...]

The post Are coders worth it? appeared first on Aeon Magazine.

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JohnL4
3349 days ago
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I ran across this on G+ yesterday (G+/Newsblur synergy?) This is what I had to say:

Mmm. Well, not to be harsh or mean or anything, but this is fluff. Bright, young, presumably-privileged kid gets paid to do something with his mind that he finds easy, and wonders if his work has value (and whether it's fair for him to be paid what he's being paid). Oy.

(1) He doesn't have a conclusion, but he's going to keep on doing it.

(2) The market of which he speaks is, at this very moment, undercutting his "value" by farming his work out to places on Earth where bright, young, presumably-substantially-less-privileged kids will get paid to what he does for 1/5 of his wages, so there's the answer to the "value" question.

Next!
davenelson
3350 days ago
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I think this is the most telling part of the article "I don’t have the courage to say no to that. I have failed so far to escape the sweep of this cheap and parochial thing, and it’s because I’m afraid. I am an awfully mediocre programmer — but, still, I have a secure future. More than that, I have a place at the table. In the mornings I wake up knowing that I make something people want. I know this because of all the money they give me."
Atlanta, Georgia
sredfern
3350 days ago
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wow, amazing. must read
Sydney Australia
galmeida
3350 days ago
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artigo muito bem escrito...
fabuloso
3350 days ago
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great article
Miami Beach, FL
rafeco
3350 days ago
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I can't believe how much Rap Genius pays developers.
samuel
3350 days ago
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I loved this essay. I had two related thoughts while reading this: value is derived from scarcity, but only through a layer of abstraction. Scarcity is ultimately who can build this tool or service better than anybody else building similar tools and services. It is not necessarily just the scarcity of people who can build anything at all.

And that led me to the news reader wars that are heating up. In this context, while there are many readers (and I can glean from the grapevine that we haven't even reached the halfway mark to peak reader) there is a scarcity of quality readers. And that is where the value (read: money) comes from. But this essay mistakes the presence of lots of readers for a lack of scarcity, which isn't the case.
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Where I See Myself in Five Years by James Drummond

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Performance Review Question 4:
Where do you see yourself in five years?

Since no one can see the future, I will answer by presenting twenty possible scenarios, which, admittedly, vary in their likelihood. Nevertheless, I feel it is best to try to be thorough so that at least one of the scenarios may prove true in five years. Most of the scenarios are positive, but a few negative scenarios are included for balance. Please note that during previous performance reviews I have been repeatedly told that I need to “think outside the box.”

Scenario 1: In five years I will have received a promotion.

Scenario 2: In five years, the company will have realized what a hard-working, intelligent and loyal employee I have been and will reward me for my long and dedicated service with a generous raise and a bonus. My performance rating will go from the unwarranted “needs improvement” to “exceeds expectations”

Scenario 3: In five years I will have risen to the position of Vice President.

Scenario 4: In five years I will have risen to the position of President.

Scenario 5: In five years I will own the entire company.

Scenario 6: In five years I will own the entire company and will have replaced all the managers with pieces of fake, rubber poop embedded with voice chips that randomly say things like “Work smarter, not harder,” or, “I need your time sheet,” or, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Scenario 7: In five years I will have given up trying to understand the phrase “think outside the box.”

Scenario 8: In five years I will be living outside in a box.

Scenario 9: In five years my worst childhood fears will have been realized when I am attacked by a swarm of killer bees just moments before I undergo spontaneous human combustion.

Scenario 10: In five years there is global-thermonuclear war. Adding insult to injury, the war happens on a Friday, ruining absolutely everyone’s weekend. The only other person in the building besides me to survive the initial attack is a marketing consultant. His first words to me are “You’re going to want to think about rebranding.” I tear a hole in his radiation suit.

Scenario 11: In five years I will have been elected to public office on the basis of my controversial, yet ultimately reasonable and popular platform of giving the death penalty to anyone caught using a leaf blower. Less popular is my proposed legislation, which only allows hockey to be played where ice forms naturally.

Scenario 12: In five years I will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of my invention of the time machine, which I will observe by attending the original Woodstock concert, again.

Scenario 13: In five years I will have stunned the medical and sporting worlds by undergoing a metamorphosis wherein I reverse in age 25 years, grow six inches in height and become the starting goalkeeper for Liverpool FC, leading them to the Premiership title, the FA Cup championship and the European Football Associations championship. Note: If this scenario proves true, then in a further five years I see myself leading Canada to its first World Cup title.

Scenario 14: In five years I will have switched fields and become a respected and in-demand speaker, getting $25,000 per appearance to lecture on “being in the moment.” I use the money to fund my work on the time machine.

Scenario 15: In five years I will be fronting the re-formed Led Zeppelin, after Jimmy Page happens to see my YouTube cover of “Black Dog” and is moved to tears by my uncanny physical and vocal resemblance to Robert Plant, who can’t participate because he is too busy making hillbilly music.

Scenario 16: Same as the above except substitute Doors for Led Zeppelin, Robby Krieger for Jimmy Page, “Touch Me” for “Black Dog,” Jim Morrison for Robert Plant and dead for too busy making hillbilly music.

Scenario 17: Using my time machine, I have gone back and prevented the meeting of the man and woman, who, without my intervention, would have eventually given birth to the HR person who came up with the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Scenario 18: In five years I will have invented an alternative form of clean, renewable and safe energy, eliminating the need for fossil fuels and creating an immediate reversal of the negative effects of climate change. Because of the patent waiver I signed when I was hired, the company owns the invention and makes trillions. My performance rating goes from “needs improvement” to “meets expectations.” I start working on a time machine in my garage at night.

Scenario 19: In five years I will be doing “more with less.”

Scenario 20: In five years I will be filling out this fucking form again.

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