Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone dream may not be a reality yet, but in preparation, it’s building an online marketplace for parts already. The company struck a deal with software solutions company Globant to work on a modular smartphone parts marketplace that’s as easy to use as the Google Play Store.
Ideally, the marketplace will serve as a one-stop shopping center for those brave, adventurous souls who want to build their own smartphones piece by piece. Presumably, companies – whether it’s small independents, or well-known manufacturers such as LG, Samsung, and Sony – will sell components and modules for Project Ara directly to the public, much like the Play Store works for apps.
In a statement, Globant said Google hopes Project Ara will create “a two-sided market between module developers and consumers, with module developers gaining direct access to consumers (versus having to market to original equipment manufacturers), and consumers benefitting from a more diverse ecosystem of functional hardware options for their device.”
Once all the different modules are on the site, users will be able to browse through components and decide which camera module, processor, storage option, and other features they want on their modular smartphone. Just like the Google Play Store, the Project Ara component marketplace will feature user reviews of different modules and recommendations from early adopters. It’s unclear whether the site will offer a how-to guide for users who want to build their own phones, or if all the components will be compatible with each other.
Obviously, it’s still early days for Project Ara and its marketplace will undoubtedly take clearer shape once Google announces it’s ready to bring modular phones to the world. Although the Project Ara team does have a working prototype running Android, it seems unlikely the project will be ready to go live at the second Project Ara Developers Conference in January. The team is expected to reveal a new Ara Module Developers Kit and an update on its progress at the event.