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Ford connected car deal with Blackberry

William Payne
November 10, 2016


Ford Motor has agreed a deal with Canadian mobile software maker BlackBerry to expand the use of the latter's QNX and security software for connected cars. A team from BlackBerry will work with Ford on expanding the use of BlackBerry’s QNX Neutrino Operating System, Certicom security technology, QNX hypervisor and QNX audio processing software.

Blackberry hailed the deal as signifying an acceleration in its pivot from hardware to software and extending its position in automotive security and  connected car services.

The Ontario based company already has a significant presence in the connected automotive market. Its QNX embedded operating system is used in around 60 million cars.

The deal with Ford however signals a breakthrough for Blackberry in becoming a direct supplier to a Tier-1 car manufacturer.

To date, Blackberry has typically licensed its technology to automotive infotainment firms. These in turn have sold on their services plus Blackberry's technology in a package to the Tier-1 automotive manufacturers.

With this deal, Blackberry becomes a Tier-1 supplier, by-passing the infotainment providers and dealing with car manufacturers directly.

Moving to becoming a Tier-1 automotive supplier should boost Blackberry's income. The agreement for Ford includes Blackberry working with Ford to integrate its technology -- a higher value arrangement than supplying commodity OS software.

This deal is likely to be aimed at enhancing Ford's connected car services and offerings. However, Blackberry has talked about developing software for self driving vehicles. Ford is planning to build self driving taxis for ride-sharing services by 2021, and a consumer car available by 2025. 

“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,” said John Chen, executive chairman and CEO at BlackBerry. “Ford is an industry leader and the opportunity to contribute our world-class technology to their products is a privilege. Ford’s expanded application of our software and services illustrates the diverse and broad value we can bring to market.”

“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,” said Raj Nair, Executive Vice President Product Development and Chief Technical Officer, Ford Motor Company. “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.”