Google’s, and formerly Motorola’s modular phone concept, Project Ara is apparently being suspended according to a new report from Reuters.
Project Ara was announced by Motorola back in 2013 prior to the sale of the company from Google to Lenovo. In that sale, Google kept the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group who has been working on Project Ara, a concept phone that allowed users to swap out components like radios, cameras through the use of interchangeable modules.
According to the usual ‘people familiar with the matter’, though Google has suspended their push to produce the phone themselves, they may look to partners to bring the technology to market through licensing agreements.
As recently as Google I/O in May, Google had announced that they would be bringing a developer version to market in Q4 this year, with a consumer version due to arrive next year.
The move to suspend the phone could be an edict from former Googler, and ex-head of Motorola, Rick Osterloh, who re-joined Google in April as head of a new hardware division being built within Google. A lot more hardware is coming from Google, with Google Home and new Daydream headsets and controllers due to release later this year. Google is also apparently becoming more involved with hardware with rumoured ‘Pixel’ branded phones about to launch.
Project Ara’s road from concept to product hasn’t been smooth. In the middle of last year, the ATAP team did cancel a planned launch in Puerto Rico, and had to re-think the attachment method of the modules after the electropermanent magnet setup failed their quality control testing.
Google has so far declined to comment, as is their usual stance on things of this nature. This could be a case of over-reaction, or Project Ara could indeed be halted, we’ll have to wait and see.
Former Head of Design at Google ATAP and founder of Project Ara Dan Makoski has tweeted out a sombre message of condolence to Ara, tweeting:
— Dan Makoski (@mak0ski) September 2, 2016