Google Reportedly Shutters Ambitious Project Ara Modular Smartphone Program

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Google parent company Alphabet apparently has zero tolerance for failure and money-losing endeavors. We’ve seen Alphabet toss its Boston Dynamics robotics division to the side, and the company recently slashed Google Fiber’s staff in half. And now it looks as though the latest victim is the ambitious Project Ara modular smartphone platform.

Both Reuters and Recode are confirming the news, with the former saying that it represents a “broader push to streamline the company's hardware efforts” according to sources within Google. Project Ara, which was part of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, could possibly live on in some form. Google is reportedly open to licensing the technology to other companies.

According to Recode, Google hardware chief Rick Osterloh was instrumental in killing Project Ara, instead deciding to focus resources on projects like Chromebooks and the upcoming Google Home AI device.

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Google showed off its latest refinements to Project Ara back in May, but even then there were signs that it was losing steam. When Project Ara was initially presented as a concept three years ago, nearly every hardware aspect of the smartphone was replaceable including the processor, RAM, and display. But with its most recent iteration, all of those components were integrated into the base smartphone frame, greatly limiting its initial appeal to potential customers.

Google had hoped to ship development units of Project Ara later this year, while consumers were scheduled to get their hands on the Frankenphone sometime in 2017. With Project Ara out of the way, Google will have more time to focus on other smartphone projects like its upcoming Marlin and Sailfish Nexus Android flagships.