Google planning to sell Project Ara modules in new online store



There’s been a lot of speculation regarding Project Ara and how Google would look to handle distribution of modules. Project Ara, if you don’t know, is a work-in-progress experiment by Google to create a smartphone platform that allows users to choose the features and parts they want.

This is done through the use of modules, which are Lego-like pieces you slot into a smartphone frame however you wish. Such a product would let users choose between different display sizes and resolutions, camera sensors and storage, connectivity modules and more. Don’t need a camera on your smartphone? You don’t need to buy one. And all these modules will be made by not only Google, but anyone who has enough skill to make one to the specifications laid forth by Google.

So how are all these modules expected to be sold? Early rumors suggested vending machines and kiosks, though logistics for that sort of thing are tough to figure out when you anticipate modules being manufactured by many different sources. Instead, Google has decided to go the tried and true route of selling them via an online marketplace.

Google revealed that much to PC World in a recent interview. The modules will be sold through their own site akin to Google Play. Third-party merchants will be able to list their modules here, too, and — much like Google Play — users can rate and review modules to make it easier for everyone to find the best of the best.

Google also touched on what they hope and expect to see from module manufacturers once Project Ara hits. Aside from typical smartphone-necessary components such as displays, processors, storage and cameras, Google expects to see all sorts of interesting sensors for the health field, components for video gaming and more crop up.

The possibilities for what you can do with Project Ara should be nearly endless, though the company isn’t shy about admitting that it’ll take some time before the dream is fully realized. They’re not expecting to be able to run their first consumer trials until some point in 2015, and a wide-scale consumer launch won’t happen until Google feels confident they’ve knocked out all the kinks and figures out what does and doesn’t work well.

It’s an ambitious project so it’s not surprising that they want to take extra care and make sure they get it right. Now it’s up to the users to find out if their patience is as strong as Google needs it to be as we wait its arrival.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Am I about to buy my last “old-hat” smartphone in the Nexus 6? Make it so, Google!

    1. Computer, locate nearest Project Ara stock facility and display.

  2. I’m hopeful that my current Galaxy S4 (with a GPE ROM) can hold me over until the Ara phones become a reality.

  3. I love my Nexus 5 (and 7) but will be scooping up an ARA as soon as they let me
    I’m definitely passing on the Nexus 6 & 9 (don’t need a gigantic phone that cost as much as my current phone & tablet combined).

    1. I’m honestly thinking that a 2X5 720p Ara might be just what I need, since I already carry my personal phone, a Nexus 5, and a Nexus 7 daily.

  4. I remember hearing about Google using an online store for this already.

    Yup here you go

    “With partners like Toshiba, Foxconn, and more, all the modules will be sold in an online store or “Modular Marketplace” similar to the Google Play Store, and will need to be certified before being available to consumers.”

  5. I’m all for Ara but the camera in that picture is a freekin’ wart on the phone. I hope that’s not anything more than a test module.

    1. Why would all the camera mods be like that when cameras now a days easily fit into phones? I know some phones have camera bumps but that that bad.

    2. That might be an optical zoom lens module and you can bet there will be a few other, “wart”-less choices. #lensesaplenty

    3. There are a few cameras pictured in the ARA photos that are much smaller.

  6. What if I want a 4″ screen? A 5″ screen? A 4-1/2″ screen? There will have to be surrounding parts made for those.

    1. I was going to ask the same thing. Or what if I build my phone around a 5 inch screen but then I want to upgrade to a 5.5 inch screen ? Will I need to buy all new parts to fit ? If that’s the case then it doesn’t sound like its worth the hassle

      1. If it’s truly modular, you should just need to buy the chassis & screen. You would then swap the other modules from the old chassis.

    2. I think Google said the screen will not be a replaceable module, instead they may have a few base chassis that come with different screen sizes. It would be cool if you could replace the screen with a screen of the same size but newer technology or different resolution.

      1. The screen is replaceable and there are different sized frames. So I don’t see why an OEM can’t add bezels to a screen to get a certain size in that regard.

        1. Sure an OEM could make a screen module with a screen size smaller than the max screen size that could fit in the module dock. If you got the chassis with a 5″ screen you could replace it with a 4.5″ screen but not a 5.5″ screen. I don’t think you could use space from an adjacent module spot to use a larger screen, like using the screen spot and the camera spot to fit a bigger screen.

      2. They said the screen is not hot-swapable just meaning that you would have to power the device down before switching the screen. It is definitely replaceable though.

    3. 1st run looks like 2 “sizes” of frame will be available: 2X5 and 3X6 blocks. A larger 4X7 is planned for later.

      The 2X5 shows a few formats that would give you different screen sizes depending on what you buy. The same holds true for the others.

      Conceivably, anyone should be able to manufacture their own chassis and screens though. It’s an open MDK, so as long as it conforms to specs, it’s open to pretty much any size.

    4. As I understood it the idea was at one point to have a chassis that can accommodate a display of about 4.7″ and another one to accommodate a 5.5″ display. Who knows what it’ll actually be like when the consumer testing comes along, though, let alone widescale public availability.

  7. When this all works out this is going to be the coolest thing ever!

  8. I guess I’ll have to be a guinea pig in order to go into the beta.

  9. My patience will be found within the Nexus 6.

  10. Gimmie! I ain’t buying a nexus 6.

  11. And all my friends laughed at me when I use used legos to make my pretend perfect phone. Now I have a leg up when this is released!

  12. keen cubed

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