Project Ara, Google’s project to bring to life a modular phone that you put together like Lego bricks, is coming to Puerto Rico in a pilot later this year.
At its second Project Ara Developer Conference on Google’s campus in Mountain View today, Project Ara director Paul Eremenko discussed Google’s go-to-market plans. Instead of putting it out there for everybody, Google is more comfortable doing a pilot. “We have a variety of unanswered questions, and the only way to get answers is to get actual data,” said Eremenko at the event.
Why Puerto Rico? According to Google, it chose Puerto Rico for its strong mobile penetration–75 percent of the population’s initial access to the Internet comes through phones. Puerto Rico has designated free trade zones where Google can import modules from around the world. The marketplace for mobile carriers is also diverse with competitors ranging from local, US-based and Latin America carriers. Google is working with two carriers: local carrier Open Mobile and Claro, a subsidiary of América Móvil, the largest mobile services provider in Latin America.
Eremenko talked about the need to get information around how to sell the unusual idea of a modular phone to the public. “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,” said Eremenko. “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.”
One way Google is approaching selling the smartphone modules in Puerto Rico is through a roving van using the food cart model. “We want to create a flexible retail experience,” said Eremenko. “We’re designing a food truck as a retail vehicle for the market pilot.”
Although Google was vague about listing what any of this is going to cost, it has in the past stated it’s planning the basic phone frame to cost as low as $50. From there, you can add in memory, application processors, cameras, sensors to create any smartphone to your liking. At the conference, Google said it would have 20 to 30 modules available for purchase when Project Ara officially launches. Google will roll out both online and physical retail locations for purchasing these modules.
Google captured a lot of attention so far with its Project Ara project. The idea of being able to buy modules to incrementally upgrade your phone could reduce a lot of unnecessary costs and waste associated with having the latest and greatest in smartphone technology.
This article was written by Aaron Tilley from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.