Google wants Project Ara to start at $50; Developers’ conference set for April

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Google seems to be full steam ahead in trying to bring the concept of a modular phone to reality. Project Ara, if you don’t remember, is an original project of Motorola’s that conceptualizes a phone where you can upgrade individual components however you see fit. Whether that means upgrading storage, the camera, the processor and more, the idea is for users to build the phones they want. Google recently plucked the Project Ara team from Motorola before selling the OEM off to Lenovo, showing that they want to be at the forefront of this modular phone concept.

We’re likely still far off from seeing anything available in the public eye, but Google is already thinking ahead to how much they want this to be offered for. According to an interview with Time, the company is envisioning an entry price of just $50. What’ll that get you? A display, a frame and a WiFi radio, for starters. Users can then walk up to kiosks to buy the pieces they want and need, and Google will even aim to provide software (likely Android-based) that users can easily customize for their own needs.

Of course, Google knows $50 is a long shot, and knows that there’s still a bit of ways to go before we even see a consumer-ready product come to store shelves. Still, it’s nice to know they’re so deep into this thing that they’re already thinking about pricing and distribution.

More evidence that Google is deep into Project Ara is recent revelation that they’ll be holding a Developers’ Conference this April (15th-16th, to be exact). This isn’t your typical conference, though — this one is being held online, giving everyone access to all the information and early tools they need to start thinking about building the tools that will make Project Ara a reality.

The conference will feature live webcasts and interactive Q&A sessions. Google’s also inviting a few select developers to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View to digest everything in-person.

We’re not sure what all of that will mean for Project Ara focus at the forthcoming Google I/O event, but you can bet we’ll be looking to find out when schedule details are released. All of this is leading up to a possible launch of Ara in early 2015, so strap your seat belts and hang onto something solid for what should be an exhilarating ride.

[via Google+]

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  • Satwik Kamatmehbro

    would buy in a heartbeat :)

  • hemipw54

    Hope it comes to fruition.

  • steveb944

    Take… My…. Money. ASAP

  • Travillion

    I think it’s a cool concept, though I have a hard time envisioning the same type of cohesive product (particularly hw/sw interaction) as you’d get with a phone designed and built by a single OEM.

    • h4rr4r

      I build my own desktops and never have any problem with them. Why would this be different. If they can get most of the drivers needed into mainline, that would solve a lot of problems.

      • Travillion

        This just seems like an exaggeration of the “fragmentation” problem that Android already supposedly has. How can they optimize an OS for a variety of different camera, processor variations? I think that’s one big reason why Android camera software is poor relative to other OEM cameras. Getting drivers into mainline would be helpful, but Google has had a hard enough time even open-sourcing some Nexus drivers.

        • h4rr4r

          There is no fragmentation problem.
          Linux runs on damn near every processor under the sun, so that problem is solved. Android camera software just does not get enough attention.

  • DannyB2

    I think it’s a cool concept, but I have a hard time believing that it can be more cost effective, at least in the short term, than a non-modular phone.

    But if it really works out that you can replace individual components over the long term, it could be great. Early buyers would be investing in the hope that companies don’t abandon the modular phone idea and stop making upgrade modules for it.

  • Max

    One interesting side effect I think this would do is provide oems data on what components people actually want. How often do people actually choose to upgrade ….processor, camera, ram, screen resolution, etc? Me? I just want 4 battery packs and 3GB ram

  • cory

    Let’s hope you can get a complete phone for less than $350

  • Mehdi Jaffery

    Interesting hoping to see new developments on this phone soon though

  • No_Nickname90

    This would be nice. I’m just afraid of developer support. It may be hard to make ROMs compatible with Bluetooth Hardware 01, BT Hardware 02 and BT Hardware 03. I’m hoping you all get what I’m saying.

    Then there would be new BT Hardware coming out. So the OEM of that hardware would have to make sure their stuff is open-sourced. Oh my gosh… IDK…

    I’m hoping I’m just over-thinking things again.

    • JointhePredacons

      Im sure there will be regular phones for you to play with your ROMs

    • Andrew Bonner

      I’m not too in the know here, but from a logical standpoint, don’t developers have to do this anyway in order to make their apps compatible with a variety of complete phones with different internals than each other?

      • No_Nickname90

        From my understanding, in order to get things to work, they would need the driver information. So in order to get bluetooth to work in their ROMs, the OEM would have to OpenSource the information. This is if the ROM isn’t the stock ROM for the phone.

        So the Sense ROM that comes with the phone on an HTC one won’t have any hardware issues of that sort, but if you use vanilla Android, you would have to use the standard Google Bluetooth driver, which may not work properly.

        This is if I’m understanding things correctly. I’m taking this understanding from how computers work. You can use a standard keyboard driver, but then some functions on your keyboard may not work because they’re not the proper driver.

  • Chris H

    Love it!

  • http://google.com SRC9

    Not sure if i’m being an idiot but will the chasis only be 50$? Or will it come with a basic spec i.e. 512mb / 4gb / 5MP / 4.0.1

  • TheJunkie

    Pretty cool idea……why can’t we have something like this for a laptop?
    We are literally moving away from modular design with macbook air and ultrabook.