Google's Project Ara ended up as a footnote in the history of mobile and modular tech, and some of Motorola's top people may have some insight into why that happened, and why it's far less likely to happen to the Moto Z and Moto Mods. According to Moto Mods Ecosystem Senior Manager Stephen McDonnell, Project Ara didn't offer meaningful changes to the smartphone experience. While more creative add-ons may have come with time, the initial plan for Ara was to make a future-proof phone where crucial components like the CPU, battery, and RAM could be swapped out. This simply didn't generate enough interest, McDonnell believes. Motorola's Marketing Head for India, Anuj Sharma, said how most consumers simply don't care enough to swap internal components and instead want more meaningful user experiences like the JBL speaker, Hasselblad camera, and the Insta-Share Projector that the Moto Mod ecosystem offers.
According to McDonnell, Google failed to take the end user into consideration with Project Ara, essentially making it a phone for enthusiasts by enthusiasts. Mods such as those don't really change the experience that much as changing internal components doesn't result in drastic changes to the user experience unless you're leaping across processor generations. Moto Mods, on the other hand, are not only easily swappable to make them appealing through convenience, but they massively change the experience of using the phone. Whether that's by turning the phone into an extremely capable DSLR camera, a tabletop speaker, or a multimedia projector, McDonnell believes that such experiences speak more strongly to the average consumer. Sharma largely echoes McDonnell's sentiment.
The pair did mention that Moto would gladly approve Moto Mods allowing a more powerful processing package if somebody wanted to make them, but the current focus is on Moto Mods that can change the experience of using a phone in a big way. The issue, at the moment, is that the Moto Z family of phones, despite being quality devices, can't match up to the likes of Google's Pixel or Samsung's Galaxy lineup in terms of marketing, leaving them with a fairly limited user base. This ends up translating to a fairly small Moto Mod creator base. Without new Moto Mods, consumers don't have any real reason to get excited about the Moto Z lineup, though Moto is hoping that a number of developer advocacy efforts like MotoCollide will solve this situation and attract more developers.