EVERYTHING FIRM Google has reportedly pulled the plug on the company's Project Ara modular phone.
The project was progressing fairly well, as far as we knew, and Google had a set of people trying the thing, five of whom were in the UK. But rumours about the project coming to an end began to surface in May, just over 12 months after the lucky testers were picked.
MIT's Self-Assembly Lab even began picturing hardware that could be put into a sort of spinning washing machine drum and left to assemble itself.
That sounds insane. Perhaps Project Ara had grown too large and too big for Google to handle. Perhaps it was slowly adding to itself in a lab somewhere, building up into a super smartphone that could tell people like Eric Schmidt to go home because it "has everything in hand".
Reuters quoted sources as saying that this is something like the truth, and that Google has decided to hand the hardware over to other manufacturers and let them deal with it. We've asked Google if it wants to explain itself.
Reuters reported that this was a business decision and a way of making more sense of what must be a confusing and complicated roster of projects and products.
Motorola started the whole modular thing in 2013. "Our goal is to drive a more thoughtful, expressive and open relationship between users, developers and their phones," the company said at the time.
"To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it's made of, how much it costs, and how long you'll keep it."
Google said at the launch of Project Ara that each module would be a snap-on part, such as a battery or a camera, costing between $50 and $100. µ
The week in Google in brief
Sega hedgehogging its bets
And not a purple duck in sight