BlackBerry Ltd , has a hard time getting its line of smartphones back to the mainstream in the tech space. It is no longer news that its smartphones have lost ground to iPhone from Apple and an army of phones running on Google’s Android platform. The firm has tried its hand at making an Android phone but even CEO, John Chen was confused about running BlackBerry phones on Android OS.
Despite the fact that BlackBerry is stuck in hardware, the firm is making decent progress in its software arm. The firm’s software business is a thought-leader in the security space and the firm now wants to use its software to turn cars into computers. Derek Kuhn, VP of Sales at BlackBerry Technology Solutions during a Q&A session with automotive news provides insight into how the firm is taking over the car space.
BlackBerry’s QNX takes over self-driving cars
QNX is BlackBerry’s division that makes the OS on which the infotainment systems in many cars today run. In fact, QNX runs about half of all the in-car infotainment systems –BlackBerry ‘s QNX is ahead of Apple’s CarPlay and it is ahead of Google’s Android Auto in merging computers with cars. QNX recently closed a deal to deliver the latest version of Ford Motor Co.’s Sync systems. Kuhn confirms QNX’s top dog status saying”, Security is not a product, it’s a process, and it’s something that we at BlackBerry know very well.”
QNX is also making inroads into the self-driving space and that is where BlackBerry has the best chances of hitting a homerun in the long term. Kuhn says the firm has knowledge in self-driving military grade tech that it could scale down to consumer models. In his words, “We’ve been working with military groups for autonomous vehicles for many, many years, whether they fly, swim or walk, so this is something that QNX has a (huge) amount of experience with.”
Kuhn did not state the specific are brands that are running QNX tech but he notes that the firm provides the framework for the “piloted driving” that is seen “in a lot of driver safety systems that are coming up”. The firm is also forward thinking as it creates the middleware that could serve as building blocks for more advanced self-driving systems.
Self-driving cars is the next frontier in tech
All major tech players want to disrupt the transport space. Apple Inc is working on its “Project Titan” Google Inc ‘s self-driving cars are already logging miles, and Tesla Motors Inc EVs are now being packed with “autopilot” features. Kuhn notes that BlackBerry is a key player in the self-driving space even though the firm doesn’t make much noise.
In his words, “We are hiring people, we are winning more and more, and we are looking to grow even more. We’re really working to advance our software and services on the [Internet of Things] side. We’ve developed a complete connected-car system for the auto space.”
Blackberry is working on self-driving cars, but the firm is keeping quiet about which models will be using it’s tech. That will make it difficult to see the firm’s progress and measure it against the likes of Tesla Motors, a firm that’s also working on Autopilot.
Tesla Motors has promised that its tech is coming soon since last Spring. At the current rate, however, BlackBerry Ltd, a rumored-dead handset maker out of Waterloo, Ontario, may beat Elon Musk to the road.