Google shelves Project Ara modular smartphone

Project Ara is Google’s own name for a plan to bring about a modular smartphone, a smartphone with interchangeable parts that buyers could swap out for other parts if need be. Project Ara has been teased over the last two or three years in particular, with a number of instances here and there where we’d get glimpses of what the undertaking was all about. The beauty behind the modular smartphone is that 1) it would make smartphones easy to repair and 2) it would let some DIYers customize their devices to their hearts’ content. The project entertained modules that could’ve taken it beyond smartphones to enter the realm of health wearables as well.

Unfortunately, desperate times call for desperate measures — and that means that Project Ara is now history. According to Reuters, Google has streamlined its company projects, and Ara is the first to go. The reason? The search engine giant is interested in making money and Ara would require too much money to bring it about:

Alphabet Inc’s Google has suspended Project Ara, its ambitious effort to build what is known as a modular smartphone with interchangeable components, as part of a broader push to streamline the company’s hardware efforts, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The same can be said regarding why Google sold robotics company Boston Dynamics or Motorola, and explains why Google has been known for shutting down endeavors that see little to no return. Google has just released Allo and Duo apps on Android and iOS to encourage users to talk more and use Google services — but if these don’t yield the productivity, Google will likely shelve them later. Google had previously delayed Project Ara until this year back in 2015, so the delay indicated that not all was well within Google world.

Google is getting to a place where it wants to make profit rather than dabble into geeky projects that bring little in the way of financial return. Perhaps it’s the case that Google-now-turned-Alphabet wants to see some return on all the power it has. At the same time, however, Google is making some drastic changes in the name of profitability, such as making two upcoming Google Pixel phones that will ditch vanilla Android in favor of a skinned Android UI with in-built functionality that you can’t find on any other Android smartphones.


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