Google’s Project Ara is looking to hire supply chain experts ahead of a 2015 “market pilot”

Google’s ambitious modular smartphone experiment, Project Ara, still seems like science fiction even though some developers and beta testers recently received prototypes. But the project looks like it’s on track to publicly offer units in 2015, and Google’s Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) group is looking for a few experts to help with the rollout.

The job listings, which were tweeted out Tuesday on @projectara, are decidedly not entry level. Google’s looking for a head of project rollout who will take on a fair amount of daunting responsibilities: Navigating product regulations in countries across the world as well as with the FCC, coordinating marketing and branding, and establishing retail and fulfillment networks, which implies that Project Ara will be sold in stores, unlike Google Glass. [company]Google[/company] is primarily looking for an executive who has overseen a handset launch for an OEM in the past.

The other two listings are more technical. ATAP needs a head of developer relations and supply chain, because what’s the point of a modular smartphone if there aren’t interesting modules to plug into it? He or she will recruit developers to spend time and money developing modules for a platform that might never take off, which seems like a difficult enough job, but will also have the responsibility to oversee and manage the supply chain for Project Ara “prototypes.” It sounds like a very senior position. Google is also looking for a deputy chief engineer to manage an ATAP design team.

Project Ara has always had an aggressive timeline for its rollout, which is due to the DARPA-inspired methods employed by the ATAP program. Although its had its setbacks (the first working public prototype refused to boot up at Google I/O) there appears to be a reality distortion field propelling it to market. Many of the terms used in these listings — “prototype” and “market pilot” — imply that when Project Ara does go on sale, it will be in a limited fashion. Google’s not using the “January 2015” time frame anymore, but the team wouldn’t be looking for this kind of talent if it didn’t expect to be selling Project Ara devices to non-developers in the near future.