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Project Ara could arrive next year for just $50

According to Ara's project head Paul Eremenko, the goal is to make Project Ara as affordable as possible, perhaps as cheap as $50. Obviously this $50 model will be very basic, but it will then be further expanded through new modules.
February 27, 2014
motorola project ara modular smartphone (1)

Yesterday we learned that Google will hold its first Project Ara developers conference on April 15-16 in Mountain View. The idea of a smartphone that can be continually upgraded as new parts arrive might sound like nothing more than a geek’s dream, but it’s about way more than that.

According to Google’s official Ara page, their goal with Ara is to ultimately make modern smartphone technology more accessible for the masses. In order to reach this lofty goal, Google’s Ara project head Paul Eremenko says that the device could go on sale sometime next year for as little as $50 — though keep in mind this price target could change.

Consumers could save up and slowly start add expanded functionality to Ara

Obviously a $50 start-price comes with a few caveats. First, the ‘phone’ would be extremely basic with only Wi-Fi and extremely minimal storage and processing options, just to get it into the hands of consumers that can’t afford a high price tag. The idea is that the buyer could then save up and slowly start adding expanded functionality to the device such as cellular connectivity, an improved camera, more storage and a faster CPU/GPU.

Aside from revealing Google’s plans to make the barrier of entry as low as possible, Eremenko also reveals that Ara will hopefully be no more than 10mm thick (with modules attached) and will come in at least three different sizes: mini, medium and jumbo.

For those wondering how exactly the modules will stay in place so they don’t fall off in your pocket or right while your using the device, Google plans to lock front modules through latches and back ones through electropermanent magnets. Unlocking a module requires you to use a special app within the phone, however.

There’s no denying that the idea of Project Ara still sounds a little impractical and out of reach, even if it is also really cool at the same time. Of course, with Google behind it, we suppose just about anything is possible. We are certainly intrigued by the project and will continue to keep an eye out on this one. What do you think, impressed by Ara? Or do you feel its nothing more than a pipedream that won’t work out as well as we hope?