Though BlackBerry has called it quits from the smartphone business(or hardware business, in general) but it is not giving up on the software division as of yet. The company has announced yesterday that it has signed a deal with Ford to not only extend their long-standing partnership but also expand the use of its car software to power its self-driving vehicles of the future. The terms of this transaction haven’t been disclosed.
With this agreement, BlackBerry has inked its first-ever exclusive deal with a renowned automobile manufacturer, though it has already been selling its car software and infotainment tech to others as well. This beginning also marks the end of an era — smartphones and the company’s pivot to software and security.
The agreement also states that BlackBerry will dedicate a team of engineers to help Ford incorporate the necessary features in a cohort of softwares — QNX Neutrino OS, Certicom security technology, QNX hypervisor and QNX audio processing software. Its software tech currently power over 60 million cars, from 40 different manufacturers across the globe. Commenting on this partnership, John Chen, executive chairman and CEO at BlackBerry says,
The future of the automobile is all about embedded intelligence. I believe our expertise in secure embedded software makes us the preferred technology provider to put the smart in the car. Ford’s expanded application of our software and services illustrates the diverse and broad value we can bring to market.
The amalgamation of BlackBerry’s expertise in car software and security will also enable it to become the focal point of Ford’s future plans for the development of self-driving tech.Though Ford has declined to comment on the two companies working together on autonomous tech but their aggressive development and testing will only come to fruition if they do. Bloomberg says that Ford plans to begin selling self-driving cars to customers over the next five years, which also includes 100k robo-taxis by 2021.
The dedicated will operate from Canada, where the headquarters of QNX are located. Apple has recently also set up its self-driving software research centre in Canada and poached multiple experienced employees from QNX. Raj Nair, Executive VP(Product Development) and CTO, Ford Motor Company also comments on the extension of their partnership with BlackBerry to another realm. He says,
With the success of our SYNC 3 system globally, which is based on the BlackBerry QNX operating system, we understand the importance of the connected car experience to our customers. Growing our expertise, experience and use of the BlackBerry QNX embedded software platforms will help ensure we deliver the high-quality, highly secure experience that our customers expect.