Google Build Your Own Smartphones Set To Be Released Next Week
The Project Ara modular smartphones, which can be assembled by clipping together different components, will make their consumer debut at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona however it is not known whether retailers who currently sell the Google Chromecast will get a console that allows consumers to build their own device in store or whether Google is set to sell direct.
Retailers are telling us that Google is only offering a 3% margin which makes it unattractive to most CE retailers.
Google first launched Project Ara, the codename for the customisable hardware phone system in February last year. The platform allows users to clip different components, or modules, together to create a smartphone with a camera, RAM, GPU and display of choice, meaning new modules can be purchased for an upgrade or replacement, rather than buying an entirely new device.
Each of the modules are said to cost between $A65 and $A125.
Working phones and 50 modules will be on display at MWC in Barcelona, which kicks off on March 2, according to show organisers.
Project Ara’s first official developers’ conference was held earlier this year, where project director Paul Eremenko revealed the trial, saying: “we have a variety of unanswered questions, and the only way to get answers is to get actual data.”
“Consumers actually crave choice, but when presented with choice, they seize up – and when they make a choice, they frequently have remorse about making the wrong one,” he said.
“Ara is full of choices. We have to carefully curate and manage the experience. We have a variety of hypothesis, but we need to test them in the field.”
Google has said its aim for the project is to design a phone for the use of six billion people, and will eventually sell a starter kit of materials for users to build their own.
Project Ara is housed within Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) lab, the group which the search engine’s space and motion platform Project Tango recently graduated from into the main business.
Recently Toshiba revealed two camera modules that it’s making for Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone.
The modules can be swapped in and out of an Ara handset, allowing you to easily upgrade the snapper on your smartphone. The two modules that were shown off by Toshiba were 5MP and 13MP snappers, both of which can be quickly installed into a Project Ara handset as the main rear cameras.
Toshiba is also working on a front-facing 2 megapixel camera. Although we should be seeing an early version of Project Ara later this year when a pilot test program launches, according to a Toshiba development plan we won’t see the camera modules until 2016.