Alphabet owned Google has reportedly suspended its plans to launch a modular smartphone under Project Ara. The project would have been Google's first self-built consumer phone as its Nexus line of phones are branded by the company but manufactured by OEMs like Huawei, LG, HTC and others.

The news comes as a surprise for most as at the Google I/O conference in May, Google had announced a host of partners for the project and aimed to ship a developer edition of the product by this autumn. While Google will not build the smartphone, sources close to the company say, Project Ara's technology may still be brought to the market sometime later through licensing agreements.

The company has not revealed the reason for the axing of the project, but sources say the latest move is part of a broader push to streamline the company's hardware efforts. Post the scrapping of the project, Google will look to unify its various hardware efforts ranging from Chromebook laptops to Nexus phones.

Project Ara was announced when Google still owned Motorola and was developed by the company's Advanced Technology and Projects group, which Google held on to after selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo. Since then there have been rumours of a modular phone being unveiled by Google.

Modular smartphone technology has generated quite a buzz recently, more so after Lenovo owned Motorola unveiled the Moto Z series showing off interchangeable units that can be used for a single smartphone. Modular phones are said to be aimed at prolonging the lifespan of a device and reducing electronic waste.