Google smartwatch on tap, Motorola launches modular phone project

|By:, SA News Editor

The WSJ reports Google's (GOOG +0.3%) smartwatch project is "in late-stage development," and that the Web giant is talking with Asian manufacturers to begin mass-production. However, with a source indicating the watch "could be ready for mass production within months," it doesn't look as if the product will arrive in time for the holiday season.

9to5 Google recently reported Google is "putting the finishing touches on a Watch product." Both the site and the WSJ state Google Now's push notification services will be tightly integrated, and that Google has made long battery life a priority.

The report comes as Samsung sees a 30%+ return rate at Best Buy stores for its $299 Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which debuted to poor reviews.

Meanwhile, Motorola Mobility is launching Ara, an open-source initiative meant to create smartphones whose components (its display, processor, camera, etc.), can be swapped out and upgraded on the fly.

Motorola has already dabbled with custom hardware via the Moto X, but Ara takes the concept much further. But for the platform to take off, Motorola will need plenty of support from component vendors, and maybe also a rival OEM or two.

Motorola is launching Ara following a quarter in which its sales fell 34% Y/Y (in spite of new phone launches), and the division posted a $248M op. loss.