Developers can now apply to get Google's 'Ara' modular smartphone

Earlier this month, Google announced the first 100 people who will get their hands on its 'Project Ara' modular smartphone. But if you were left wishing that you could have been one of those lucky few to get the device, there is now a new opportunity for you to apply. 

Project Ara is a research and development effort from Google, with the ultimate aim of creating a handset with modular components that can be easily upgraded and replaced. Conventional smartphones are of course purchased pre-assembled, and are not designed to be upgraded.

With Ara, there is a basic 'skeleton' board, which the company hopes will go on sale for as little as $50. Components - such as the processor, memory, battery, camera and the like - would then be purchased separately, with each module slotting in to the device to create a complete smartphone, allowing users to upgrade or downgrade individual elements of their handset as desired. 

As The Next Web reports, Google is now accepting applications from developers with an interest in the device. That said, the company is unlikely to consider your request for a development board if the only reason you want one is to see how cool it is. 

What it's really looking for is hardware developers that will bring their expertise to the project, and help the company to move Ara on from being more than just an interesting idea, to a production reality. Google says it will "prioritize requests based on technical experience and the strength of your module concept."

Google will only consider one application request per company, and be aware that it is unable to ship devices to Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria. Interested developers can apply via the Project Ara website

The current review period for applications ends on July 17, 2014 at 11:59pm PDT. If you miss that deadline, you can still apply during the next review period, which runs from July 18 to August 17. Successful applicants will receive a notification within a week of the closing date, with the first development boards being shipped out later this month. 

Source: The Next Web / Project Ara | image via Google

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9 Comments

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the main feature that excites me is the fact you can invest more in a component you care about for example get a really powerful camera module but have a ordinary cpu or gpu. or if your really into music get the best speaker/headphone module and skimp on everything else.

I think this would be great for the future since these phones are getting upgraded so fast with only small updates.

Biglo said,
I think this would be great for the future since these phones are getting upgraded so fast with only small updates.

It'd sure give Apple a run for their money, where every new device hardly changes but is still expensive :)

Great for us consumers yes, but not for Apple and the others in the industry who make ridiculous amounts of money on making your hardware obsolete as soon as possible.

But knowing the industry, and the human greed in general, this project will never be allowed to bear fruit in any substantial way. Developing a standard platform for cheap hardware that is upgradeable, with options, hah... too good to be true.


Mackster said,
Great for us consumers yes, but not for Apple and the others in the industry who make ridiculous amounts of money on making your hardware obsolete as soon as possible.

But knowing the industry, and the human greed in general, this project will never be allowed to bear fruit in any substantial way. Developing a standard platform for cheap hardware that is upgradeable, with options, hah... too good to be true.


Cheap? It's literally impossible for it to be cheaper than an all-in-one handset. Modularity by nature requires extra components to support modularity. The whole of humanity already learned this from desktop PCs and the miserable failure of modular laptops.

I am sure it can be made cheap if everyone has the same goal. But anything involving giving options and extending longevity of a device, will be worked against by the industry, for obvious reasons.

The industry, with Apple being a role model and prime example, is too busy with charging $100 for an extra 16 GB of flash memory that in reality costs $15. Whatever is cheap to manufacture never extends to the consumer's wallet anyway - it goes into increased profits and dividends to rich people that can afford to buy the company's stock.

I welcome anything that can break this pattern.

Mackster said,
I am sure it can be made cheap if everyone has the same goal. But anything involving giving options and extending longevity of a device, will be worked against by the industry, for obvious reasons.

The industry, with Apple being a role model and prime example, is too busy with charging $100 for an extra 16 GB of flash memory that in reality costs $15. Whatever is cheap to manufacture never extends to the consumer's wallet anyway - it goes into increased profits and dividends to rich people that can afford to buy the company's stock.

I welcome anything that can break this pattern.


Cheap, maybe, but never cheaper. And even if partners welcome the idea, their margins would be *so much better* on all-in-one devices. Production costs are significantly less when it's a static configuration with no modularity. It also lets OEMs experiment with new hardware ideas that these 'standards' modularity requires would prevent. Experiments would require coordination between component makers and chassis makers, or limit advancement of the market to OEMs that already make both.

And where's the benefit in that? Simply out of the natural progression of technology, we all wind up preferring one OEM for the whole device anyway. And when that OEM can say they'll sell you the device prebuilt with 30% more battery life for 20% less cost, some nerd idealist crap about a new mobile hardware economy goes right out the window because reality wins every time.

I've said this before and I'll say it here: you will literally (and I mean the real 'literally' here) never--NEVER--find an example anywhere in the last 30 years of computer hardware of modular consumer devices beating pre-builts. This is historical fact. I'd challenge anyone with a boner over this project to look at where we came from to see if there's even a remote justification for their hopes.