Project Ara, an ambitious yet realistic initiative by the one and only Google, was scheduled to launch by the end of this year and was the most awaited smartphone for a long time. The smartphone houses modular packs that give the user flexibility to add and remove hardware pieces.
In fact, in May 2016 at the Google I/O, the ATAP engineering team announced that the developer version of the phone will be launched by fall 2016 and the consumer version in early 2017. The first version was expected to be launched with a few modules, and gradually expanding to accommodate more panels. If that was the case, then what happened in the last 4 months?
A new report by Reuters confirms that Google will be axing Project Ara immediately and will not be taking it any further. However, the company can license it to other companies but the probability of that happening is quite low. Google Glass also suffered the same fate, albeit for different reasons.
If you think about it, LG and Motorola launched semi-modular phones because of the stimulus from Project Ara and now all that we are left with are phone with swappable bottoms and add-on mods. Project Ara will still remain a possibility and not reality.
What happened to the dream?
Reuters points out that the reason Google canned Project Ara was that the software giant has launched a campaign to unify Google’s various hardware efforts, which range from Chromebook laptops, OnHub router to Nexus phones.
This essentially means that Google is trying the standardize their hardware equipment across all its devices before it can actually start work again on Project Ara. The modular phone is also quite expensive to manufacture and bulky to use.
Due to different removable modular pieces, the phone tends to become heavy and pricey to create. Even if the consumer version did launch in 2017, it would not have been a success owing to these shortcomings. It is better to retrieve than go ahead with a failure.
Will Ara be back?
Even after all this, we should be thankful to Google for trying to create, and almost creating, a modular smartphone which we really need right now. The hopes of Ara never returning are not dead, since a few companies might pick up the license to start work on it again.
The Silicon Valley is full of entrepreneurs and tech companies and I am sure a lot of them have interest in pursuing the modular smartphone technology further. Google might not be working on it anymore but we should expect a follow-up in the future once the company streamlines its hardware requirements.
"Google Suspends Modular Phone Project Ara; Here’s What Happened to This Innovation",