BlackBerry Wins First Major Automaker Deal with Ford for QNX Operating System, a System Apple is Gunning for
It's being report this afternoon that BlackBerry Ltd. has signed a deal to work directly with Ford Motor Co to expand the carmaker's use of its QNX secure operating system, the Canadian technology company said on Monday, as Ford develops increasingly automated vehicles.
The deal with Ford is the first BlackBerry has done directly with a major automaker, though it currently sells its technology to auto industry suppliers.
Panasonic Automotive currently uses QNX software in the Sync 3 infotainment console that it supplies to Ford.
BlackBerry is hoping the new deal will expand use of BlackBerry's software in Ford vehicles as the two companies identify other systems where it might be used.
"We can form the basis of the entire vehicle all the way from autonomous drive through to infotainment," John Wall, the head of BlackBerry's QNX unit, said in a phone interview. For more on this story read the full Reuters report here.
When BlackBerry was the leading smartphone in the world, Apple hired some of BlackBerry's engineers and before you knew it, it was ballgame over for BlackBerry who got blindsided with iOS, the iPhone and the 'app economy.' And if BlackBerry doesn't wake-up Apple will do it to them again. If they had any brains they should be suing Apple for poaching some of the core engineers, but they haven't.
Earlier this month Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple's Canadian Office is Focused on Developing carOS." We noted in that report that in January we reported that Apple was to open a new Canadian Office in Automotive Industrial Park in Ottawa. Ottawa has a major presence in the automotive software sector. Kanata Research Park is already home to BlackBerry's automotive division, QNX Software Systems, which recently unveiled a slate of new software for the rapidly evolving driverless car market. That was an interesting development for Apple in context with their Project Titan and developing car systems.
Bloomberg reported this month that Apple was aggressively chasing top QNX talent. More specifically they noted that "Apple Inc. has dozens of software engineers in Canada building a car operating system, a rare move for a company that often houses research and development projects close to its Cupertino, California headquarters, according to people familiar with the matter.
Many of the engineers working in Canada were hired over the past year and about two dozen came from BlackBerry's QNX, a leading automotive software provider.
Apple purposely targeted QNX employees because of their experience developing fundamental components of operating systems and power management, a former QNX executive said.
Bloomberg reported in July that "Dan Dodge, who founded QNX in 1982, and stayed on after BlackBerry bought the company in 2010, left QNX at the end of 2015 and joined Apple in July to work on autonomous vehicles.
While Apple licenses QNX for CarPlay, it's known that Apple likes to own every part of a system whenever possible and so it's no surprise that they parked themselves next door to the QNX facility in Ottawa to grab all the talent that they could get. While we'd like to think that Apple is innovative at everything, they certainly have no problem grabbing as many core engineers from QNX as humanly possible to help them build a competing product. Is Apple guilty of slavishly copying aspects of QNX? Well, they're hiring QNX engineers for a clear reason.
In the end, BlackBerry better run with the wind and gain as many new long term deals as they can with car companies before Apple makes a run at their "new market" with carOS (or whatever they call it). Apple robbed them blind with the iPhone so there's no reason for them to say that they got blindsided again. Apple has made their intentions very clear. Apple is coming for your market. So don't fall asleep at the wheel this time around BlackBerry or recent history will repeat itself. It's really that simple.