Rumours abound that Blackberry’s QNX may be about to replace Microsoft in Ford’s next-generation Sync. If true, then using QNX will be less expensive than licensing Microsoft technology and will improve the flexibility and speed of the next Sync system. It may also help the auto OEM address customer complaints about about malfunctioning technology systems and touch screens that have hurt it in surveys by J.D. Power & Associates and Consumer Reports. For BlackBerry, it’s a vote of support for a company that lost 95 percent of its value from mid-2008 to November and saw the collapse of a proposed $4.7 billion buyout. On the basis of the rumours, BlackBerry shares rose 6.6 percent to $9.74 at 9:55 a.m. in New York, although Microsoft’s fell less than 1 percent to $37.85.
“This would be a huge infusion of trust and confidence to have BlackBerry and QNX expanding into a Ford,” Thilo Koslowski, auto analyst for researcher Gartner Inc. in Santa Clara, California, said yesterday. “This is really the crown jewel in BlackBerry’s crown and could make the rest of the company shine as well.”
Since becoming BlackBerry’s CEO on Nov. 4, John Chen cited software such as QNX and the BlackBerry Messenger service as assets he will look to capitalize on. BlackBerry’s QNX software, which it acquired in 2010, is already inside cars made by BMW and Audi. The company has been maturing QNX in cars for the past few years. Microsoft Sync is used by various automakers, but Ford is the biggest adopter of Microsoft’s technology. The timing of a potential change is perfect for BlackBerry because the connected car market has been slowly building as consumers adopt smartphones.
Improving Sync is crucial for Ford to draw car shoppers who are increasingly looking to be connected at all times. In-vehicle technology is the top selling point for 39 percent of auto buyers, more than twice the 14 percent who say their first consideration is traditional performance measures such as power and speed, according to a study by the consulting firm Accenture released in December.
We look forward with keen interest on how, and if, this develops.