Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 2nd Sep 2016 23:24 UTC, submitted by avgalen

Project Ara, Google's lofty vision of a modular smartphone with a vibrant third-party hardware ecosystem, is no more.

A Google spokesperson confirmed today that the company has suspended its plan to bring the modular smartphone to market after nearly three years of development, following a revealing report from Reuters.

I've always liked the idea of Project Ara, but I guess the technological challenges combined with the (I assume) limited consumer interest were too great to overcome.

Too bad.

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by shadowhand on Sat 3rd Sep 2016 03:04 UTC
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The Ara was a cool concept, it's just that mass producing modules that would stand up to daily abuse seems unlikely.

Honestly, I like the approach that MotoZ is taking. Having a single "plate" that snaps onto the back of the device seems much more reasonable and easier for the average user to understand. Not to mention more durable.

Reply Score: 1

RE: MotoZ
by ilovebeer on Sat 3rd Sep 2016 05:34 UTC in reply to "MotoZ"
ilovebeer Member since:

That's not just it. As mentioned, there's too little consumer interest in a cellphone version of Mr. Potato Head.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: MotoZ
by Kochise on Sat 3rd Sep 2016 06:25 UTC in reply to "RE: MotoZ"
Kochise Member since:

If you want a reparable phone, there's already the Fairphone 2.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: MotoZ
by Spiron on Sat 3rd Sep 2016 07:09 UTC in reply to "RE: MotoZ"
Spiron Member since:

How do you know that when no one has ever brought such a product to market before. People did rubbish the idea of an iPhone and said that no consumer would ever buy it. Then it became the first in a line of the most popular consumer products in several countries.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: MotoZ
by ilovebeer on Sun 4th Sep 2016 04:15 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: MotoZ"
ilovebeer Member since:

You don't have to bring a product to market to know if there's consumer interest. For example, you present an idea, you display a prototype, you evaluate response. You don't truthfully believe companies just blindly bring products to market with no prior research or surveying do you?

As far as the iPhone... I don't recall people balking at the idea. On the contrary, the iPhone was perceived as something new & exciting at the time, hence the hype and subsequent sales.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: MotoZ
by darknexus on Tue 6th Sep 2016 11:50 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: MotoZ"
darknexus Member since:

Quite correct. I don't recall any consumer balking at the iPhone either, quite the contrary. I think many of us forget that what balking was done, was done by Nokia, RIM, Microsoft, and other established players in the market as well as the techie crowd. Consumers loved it from the first, for the most part.

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by Moochman on Sat 3rd Sep 2016 09:08 UTC
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They should have sold it to Lenovo along with the rest of the Motorola IP, then maybe it would have stood a chance to come to market some day. It's pretty sad that 4 years after the Phonebloks vision got so close to becoming a reality (if somewhat less modular than originally hoped for) it's been relegated to the land of wishful thinking after all.

I wouldn't be surprised if the innovation we've been seeing from LG and Motorola in terms of swappable components was at least in part a response to the developments going on at Google. Now that Google is no longer pushing the envelope, I'm worried that the future of modular phone development in general has been dealt a fatal blow.

Edited 2016-09-03 09:09 UTC

Reply Score: 4

by Savior on Sat 3rd Sep 2016 09:55 UTC in reply to ":("
Savior Member since:

Just asking, because I am not familiar with either, but is it really an innovation or are they just reusing the Jolla concept?

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RE: Innovation?
by Moochman on Sat 3rd Sep 2016 11:06 UTC in reply to "Innovation?"
Moochman Member since:

Real innovation. Check it out for yourself:

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Sidux
by Sidux on Sat 3rd Sep 2016 09:52 UTC
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Guess the manufacturers are not ready to build this on a large scale at this moment regardless the costs.
Even today phones do come with different spces even if they are the same brand (different chipset, different sensors.. ).

Reply Score: 1

Member since:

The idea was quite interesting, but it seems that as time went on, the modules you'd actually want to upgrade (e.g. CPU/GPU, RAM, screen) suddenly became non-replaceable. I also suspect that the total cost of modules equivalent to a normal phone would be much higher as well.

You do wonder that you could buy a spare budget phone and a normal phone for the price of the modular phone - which is why I think this was a non-starter from day one.

Reply Score: 2

Obvious from the beginning
by leos on Sun 4th Sep 2016 01:07 UTC
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This was obvious from the beginning. I said it would be a failure when it came out and sure enough. Anyone that knows anything about consumer electronics should have realized that the compromises of modularity in a smartphone are way too big to justify the marginal advantages. Of course that means on osnews I was downvoted because REPAIRABILITY!! Never mind it's not practical in the slightest

Reply Score: 2

The1stImmortal Member since:

For a consumer device yep. However, it might have had some promise in the industrial space - the Symbols etc of the world.

If you had ruggedized casings for internally modular devices you could have industrial devices with on-demand specs and repairability.

With industrial equipment, you're already doing relatively low volumes anyway, so switching to modularity may save a few bucks on inventory for manufacturers.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Obvious from the beginning
by Yamin on Tue 6th Sep 2016 15:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Obvious from the beginning "
Yamin Member since:

I agree right here.

Modularily tends to not be useful for very long in the industry. Eventually the 'common' use cases get integrated.

laptops got built in webcams, wifi... Smartphones got cameras...

That said, I definitely agree with you about non-consumer applications. I've seen for example a lot of small vendors use an IPhone with a credit card payment dongle. That's pretty empowering for small vendors.

I used to work in industrial control systems. It would be great to be able to just attach a sensor or communication device to a smartphone in a rugged and secure manner.

There's just too many applications here in the field devices area. It doesn't have to be too modular, just one really solid connection.

Reply Score: 2