Google on Wednesday said it will begin selling its Lego-like modular smartphone, known as "Project Ara," in Puerto Rico later this year. With Project Ara, Google hopes to create a smartphone that consumers will be able to customize by switching out its various components, or modules. These modules will allow users to upgrade the different parts of their devices, such as their cameras or processors, without having to purchase an entirely new device.
If Project Ara is ever to make it to the U.S. or global consumer markets, its pilot will have to succeed in Puerto Rico. There, Google will gauge consumer, carrier and developer interest in this type of build-it-yourself smartphone. Project Ara will be available to Puerto Rican consumers through the OpenMobile and Claro carriers. Google also said that it would sell the devices in "food truck-style stores."
"We plan to make a decision on a global launch and scaling strategy on the basis of the Puerto Rico Market Pilot," Google said in a statement.
So why Puerto Rico? The Caribbean island is a good place for Google to try out Project Ara as it has more than 3 million consumers who primarily use their cell phones to access the Internet. As a U.S. terriroty, Puerto Rico would also allow Google to get a sense for how successful Project Ara might be both at home and abroad.