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Google’s Advanced Projects and Technology (ATAP) division is still plugging away at making Project Ara, a modular smartphone, a reality. But while a marketplace for digital products like smartphone apps is easy to imagine, it’s been a bit tricky to think of how Google would handle selling the modules that makes the phone, well, modular. Today, a company called Globant announced a partnership with Google to make the module marketplace happen.

While there are still more than a few questions about how the marketplace will work, the Globant announcement today sheds a bit of light on the process. Apparently, the marketplace will work similar to the Google Play store that serves Android users with apps, games, and content, providing a place where consumers can leave feedback in the form of reviews and recommendations.

However, while it doesn’t specify that this is the case, this comparison indicates to me that buying new modules will likely be a mostly online affair. After all, you can’t buy Android apps at Best Buy or your local Verizon store. Chances are that buying modules will be similarly an online-only situation, likely in an effort to both control the quality of the modules made, and to save money on overhead in terms of distribution and taking up shelf space at retail locations.

Google will shed even more light on the future of Project Ara at its next round of developers’ conferences in January. The real upshot of the Globant partnership announcement is the simple fact that a marketplace is coming – that in and of itself is an exciting bit of news for those of us who were worried that Project Ara wouldn’t amount to much more than a proof-of-concept. If Google is seriously bringing Project Ara to market, with a real marketplace up and running to supply new modules, then the initiative could potentially turn the smartphone industry on its head.

I’ve had high hopes for Project Ara since I first heard about it way back in October of 2013 – just a little over a year ago. We’re getting closer to actually being able to buy and use a Project Ara smartphone every day, and I can’t wait.

[Source: Globant via 9to5Google]

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