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Google's Project Ara Phone is Dead

I hope you like your phones as they are, because a report from Reuters says that Google has canceled Project Ara, its modular smartphone experiment. It's particularly surprising because Google had announced a whole bunch of partners for the device at its I/O conference, with plans for a developer version for this fall and a consumer version in 2017.

Project Ara, which would have consisted of interchangeable modules for cameras, batteries, screens and other smartphone parts, was put on ice due to a plan to streamline Google's hardware efforts under the leadership of former Motorola president Rick Osterloh, according to Reuters. This includes Chromebooks, smartphones, Chromecast and other devices.

It's possible that Google will license the technology to partners to sell, but it won't be releasing a modular phone on its own, the report says.

MORE: Google Launching New Pixel Phones at Oct. 4 Event (Report)

Because the project was so secretive, one can only speculate about other reasons that it may have been shelved. For one, if Google couldn't get the phone small enough or cheap enough compared to current upscale devices, it may have turned off consumers. Developing the technology is likely expensive, and Google's parent company Alphabet organized in a way that its moonshots would have to report losses.

Alternatively, it could also be because of turnover within Google's Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) group. Regina Dugan, a former DARPA head or lead the group left for a similar job at Facebook back in April.

So, for now, rectangular smartphones are still king. That is, unless the flip phone makes a comeback.

[via Reuters]

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is an editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming as well as keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag, Complex, Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag among others.