Google’s Project Ara Modular Smartphone Could Start at $50
Google washed its hands of Motorola and handset hardware in general but Project Ara, the company’s modular phone effort, is still in the works and could produce a $50 smartphone by next year.
That entry-level Ara device would feature only Wi-Fi, forgoing a cellular connection to drive down cost, according to TIME. But because of the device’s modular design, upgrades would be available via self-service channels.
Google has announced an Ara developer conference for mid-April and said it hopes to have an Ara product to market in the year or so following. The release of a Module Developers Kit (MDK) should coincide with the conference.
When Google earlier this year sold Motorola to Lenovo for approximately $3 billion, it held onto Project Ara headed by former DARPA director Regina Dugan.
Project Ara emerged from a Google partnership with Phonebloks, a concept from Dave Hakkens aimed at reducing e-waste.
Now the idea is moving toward making a phone that’s a “tool for expression, but functionally and aesthetically,” as described by Paul Eremenko, head of Project Ara.
On the design side, Google has been working with 3D Systems to develop commercial-grade 3D printing to enable full customization. For the device functions, swappable modules are in the works for things like camera, battery, RAM, storage and processor.
The possibility of a very low entry price point for Project Ara comes as Mozilla announced a partnership between its Firefox mobile OS and chipmaker Spreadtrum that could yield smartphones beginning at $25.