It has been a long and winding road for Google's Project Ara, and a new report claims this is the end of the road. Sources tell Reuters that Google has suspended work on Project Ara as part of its efforts to bring together its disparate hardware projects. Google, as you might imagine, refused to comment.
Project Ara began life in Motorola's ATAP division, but Google kept that whole chunk of the company when Moto was sold off to Lenovo. Google originally planned a limited launch of Ara in Puerto Rico in 2015, but that was cancelled without explanation. All we've gotten since then are promo images, joke tweets, and that demo video with the breath mint module. However, engineers scaled back the original scope of Ara by integrating components like the screen and SoC with the core of the phone. Google seemed confident about the project as recently as the May developer conference.
Google brought in former Moto president Rick Osterloh earlier this year to unify its hardware business. That might be why we're about to see Pixel phones instead of Nexus phones, and why Ara is getting canned. Reuters reports that Google may still push for the technology behind Ara to launch in some capacity, but it won't be making the hardware. It's been long enough that Google is going to need to either launch something or explain why it is giving up. Hopefully we'll get the full story soon.
9to5Google spoke to Dan Makoski, former Head of Design at Google ATAP and Founder of Project Ara, to ask him about his thoughts regarding this rumor. Here's what he had to say:
It’s disappointing to the teams who have worked so hard to make it real, disheartening to the developers hoping to bring their innovations to life, and frustrating to the fans across the world who were so eager to have Ara in their hands. [...] I’m personally saddened at the lack of courage to take it across the finish line, but I know and respect Rick Osterloh. He was one of the few executives who encouraged me when I first pitched the idea, and trust that he has good reasons to postpone. [...] Modularity is not a fad – it will endure as long as human beings value their creativity over their role of being passive consumers.