Last night we heard a great development in Google ATAP’s ongoing work with Project Ara, announcing the first of several developer’s conferences to take place throughout the year. At this first one in April, interested devs will get the tolls they need to start deigning the interchangeable hardware modules that will ultimately give Ara the level of customizability that’s at the heart of the effort. Time Tech has a great write-up on what Ara’s about, where it came from, and where it’s going, and in telling Ara’s story it drops a couple interesting tidbits, like the idea that the base-level Ara hardware could sell for as little as $50.
We know well enough by now that quality smartphones can still be pretty affordable, but this news is so surprising because we tend to expect custom-built products to be more expensive than one-size-fits-all options. In fairness, the $50 Ara we’re talking about would be quite basic – for instance, it might be a WiFi-only device, and something as fundamental as a cellular radio would be an add-on the user would have to buy for him- or herself.
A modular smartphone was an ambitious project enough, but a modular smartphone that might also be king of the budget phones? It’s going to be that much harder to pull off, but dang it if we’re not excited to see Google give it the old college try.