Ara will do for mobile hardware what Android did for mobile software, says Google. According to Mashable, Google wants to start by selling a stripped down phone for $50. While the device would perform only as a basic smartphone, adding more modules would enhance its abilities to meet its owner’s needs. This will allow you to assemble your smartphone from individual parts like camera, processor, storage etc.
In line with Google’s mission to push technology forward by leaps and bounds, not increments; Ara is designed to offer consumers choice. The modular phone comes with an open platform design that provides a basic chassis from Google with, the option to customize functionality using modular components sourced from third-party hardware developers. Users could buy sensors, additional storage, more battery capacity, better speakers and so on, slotting in and out components as needed.
The only connectivity offered at the $50 price point is Wi-Fi and no cellular connection. Depending on what you want your phone to be able to do, it’s easy to see the price rising quickly. According to TechCrunch, Ara’s aim isn’t to upsell but rather it wants to bring full-featured devices to the world’s next 5 billion potential smartphone users, without forcing them to swallow a huge price tag as well.
This should definitely appeal to hobbyists and tech enthusiasts who would be interested in a build-to-own activity such as Ara. TechCrunch alludes that modularity has a lot to potentially offer the smartphone market (and could also be very interesting when applied to tablets) but there’s a lot of ground to cover between here and selling these things in stores.
Project Ara has planned a series of three Ara Developers’ Conferences throughout 2014. The first of these, scheduled for April 15-16, will focus on the alpha release of the Ara Module Developers’ Kit (MDK). The MDK is a free and open platform specification and reference implementation that contains everything you need to develop an Ara module. We expect that the MDK will be released online in early April.
UPDATE: Here’s what has since happened to Project Ara as shared by Daily Wireless.