Google suspended its Project Ara – the ambitious project to build a modular smartphone with interchangeable components as part of its wider efforts to focus on the hardware activities of the company, according to sources familiar with the matter, cited by Reuters.
The move marks a complete change of direction for the technology company, which announced the partners with who sit’s working on Project Ara at its developer conference in May. Then the company announced that in the fall will begin selling a prototype aimed at developers.
The company’s goal was to create a phone that users can customize on the fly, adding an extra battery, camera, headphones and other components.
Google spokesman declined to comment on the matter.
Although Google will not let the smartphone itself on the market, the company can work with partners for the provision of the technology behind Project Ara to the market, possibly through licensing agreements, says a source familiar with the matter
Giving up Project Ara is one of the first steps to Google in the creation of a campaign to unify the different hardware efforts of the company, ranging from Chromebook laptops and ending with Nexus smartphones. The former president of the Motorola Rick Osterloh joined Google earlier this year to take care of this whole process. Google sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo Group in 2014.
The modular smartphones sparked excitement in the tech community because of the possibility of extending battery life and reducing electronic waste. But the devices are difficult to bring to the market because their interchangeable parts make them bulky and expensive to manufacture, said analyst Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research, adding that he was not surprised that Google disclaims the project.