Google has “suspended” work on Project Ara, the initiative to build a phone with interchangeable modules for various components like cameras and batteries, according to Reuters. The company reportedly may license the technology to other partners, but will not release a phone itself. The decision is said to be part of an effort to unify Google’s hardware development under former Motorola president Rick Osterloh.
Although Project Ara has always seemed a dubious commercial prospect, the news is surprising if only because Google made a renewed effort to push the modular concept at its I/O conference earlier this year, promising a developer version for fall and a consumer release for 2017. It would have been Google’s first self-built consumer phone, although it now appears that the Nexus program may morph into something where Google releases phones under its own Pixel branding.
Project Ara was first announced by Motorola nearly three years ago. It was initially developed by the company’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, which Google held onto after selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo.