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Google's Project Ara smartphone postponed until next year

The search giant's initiative to build phones with interchangeable parts has hit development delays, as the company looks for a test market in the US.

Google's Project Ara test launch will be postposed until next year Lynn La/CNET

If you're eager to build your own smartphone, you'll have to wait awhile longer.

Google on Monday announced Project Ara, its effort to develop "modular" phones that you can put together piece by piece, would be postposed until some time in 2016. The reason: The company said the device wasn't ready to move beyond its prototype phase.

Last week, the company said it was scrapping its planned test launch of the phones in Puerto Rico, though it did not say where the new test would take place or when. Google didn't provide many new details on Monday, but added that it is looking for possible test locations in the US.

The project is Google's attempt to shake up how we buy our smartphones by utilizing interchangeable parts. That means you could choose a camera from one manufacturer, a display from another, and a processor from yet another hardware maker to build a personalized phone. When, say, the chip that acts as the processing brain becomes outdated, you could swap it out for a new one. The company hopes Ara will speed up development and innovation in the separate components that make up a phone, as hardware makers begin to compete for real estate on a handset.

Google has been steadily expanding the scope of its ambition beyond its dominant search and advertising business as it tries to find future revenue streams. That has led to investments in driverless cars, Internet-beaming balloons and contact lenses that communicate with computers. The shift in focus became so pronounced that the company last week announced a massive restructuring that separates Google's core products from its experimental projects.

But as of now, the Advanced Technology and Projects group, which developed Ara, plans to remain part of Google's core company after the split, a spokeswoman said.