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Google scraps its Project Ara modular smartphone wheeze

Software-focused firm backs out of hardware idea

Google has suspended Project Ara, its plans to build a modular smartphone that allows users to customise their own mobile phones, Reuters reported today.

The move is “part of of a broader push to streamline the company's hardware efforts”, according to two sources.

The announcement comes months after the Chocolate Factory revealed a range of partners for the project at its developer conference in May. It had also promised to push out developer editions of the smartphone this autumn.

Google planned to create a customisable mobile phone with interchangeable components for the phone’s speakers, batteries, cameras and other parts.

A spokesperson for Google refused to comment.

For tech companies, the interest in modular phones lies in the potential to lengthen a mobile’s lifespan and reduce electronic waste.

Speaking to Reuters, Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst at TECHanalysis Research, said wasn’t surprised Google suspended its plans as the individual components in modular smartphones were “bulky and costly to produce”.

Although Google will not be releasing the phone, the efforts towards Project Ara might not go to waste. A source said the company may work with partners hoping to bring modular smartphones to market through licensing agreements.

Project Ara hasn’t always run smoothly and last year, the company abandoned plans to sell the modular phone in Puerto Rico with Latin American carriers. ®

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