Goodbye, Project Ara: Google has reportedly killed its modular phone project

Jos

Posts: 3,073   +97

Google has reportedly "suspended" its modular smartphone initiative, Project Ara. The move comes as part of a broader push to streamline the company's hardware efforts, according to a Reuters report citing people familiar with the matter.

Although Project Ara never seemed like a particularly viable product and had already seen delays, the move still comes as a surprise considering Google had just announced a host of partners at its developer conference this past May, with plans to begin shipping developer units this fall, and open up sales to the general public in 2017.

The project was originally conceived as a fully modular device -- if you wanted a new camera or a faster processor, you would just swap one module out for another instead of buying a new phone. Earlier this year, however, the project pivoted from fully modular to having a fixed CPU, GPU, antennas, sensors, battery, and display. At that point you have to wonder why would you want this semi-modular device over a single-piece, solidly-built slimmer smartphone that just works the way you want it to from day one.

Reuters says that while Google will not be releasing the phone itself, it may license the technology to third parties. Whether anyone will pick it up is anyone’s guess.

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Greg S

Posts: 1,607   +442
This is not at all surprising. It's not practical when you consider what VLSI does for smartphones.
 

oldikes

Posts: 3,131   +1,537
Thats so like google - buy up companies and shut down the cool projects. Who knows if it was actually because of technicalities or because theyd rather sell more nexus (sorry, now pixel) phones and control the finances more.
 

failquail

Posts: 27   +17
"the project pivoted from fully modular to having a fixed CPU, GPU, antennas, sensors, battery, and display."

Didn't realise that was the case.

Some of the fixed sections make sense, but surely the battery is one of the parts most important to be swappable? (that goes for all phones too, I greatly disapprove of fixed batteries in any device, it's the mostly likely component to need replacing...)
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,018   +2,025
Project Ara, formally known as PhoneBloks, and Steam Machines were two the dumbest ideas that actually came close to being a real thing. I can't wait for the next "big thing".
 
I imagine feeling your phone vibrate in your pocket, then you realized you've only picked up the camera or earpiece and you need the rest of the pieces to answer the call. LOL!
 

Trillionsin

Posts: 1,882   +467
It's a cool concept, but it doesn't seem like there's a very big market for it. I'm not too disappointed that it's been canceled.