BlackBerry in software deal with Ford, first with an automaker

Mon Oct 31, 2016 4:17pm EDT
 
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By Alastair Sharp and Jim Finkle

TORONTO/BOSTON (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO: Quote)(BBRY.O: Quote) has signed a deal to work directly with Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) 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.

The company is betting its future on expanding sales of software products, including to automakers and other manufacturers, after largely ceding the smartphone market to rivals including Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote), Alphabet's (GOOGL.O: Quote) Google and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS: Quote).

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.

Ford is ramping up its driverless vehicle efforts and plans to offer a fully automated vehicle for commercial ride-sharing in 2021, it announced in August.

QNX's software is certified for use in autonomous driving and active safety systems, according to Wall.   Continued...

 
A Blackberry sign is seen in front of their offices on the day of their annual general meeting for shareholders in Waterloo, Canada in this June 23, 2015 file photo.   REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files