I’m getting giddy about this one. It’s been a while now, but I wrote a piece for you all back in December about how all was not lost for BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY).
Back then, they had just appointed a new CEO — John Chen — who was hell-bent on returning BlackBerry to its former glory at the top of the smartphone market.
Needless to say, the guy had a full plate in front of him. The company lost its grip with consumers, and even its own employees were losing confidence in the once proud name. Heck, even its co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie resigned from their posts.
What BlackBerry was all set to do then was to head back to the drawing board and focus on its three main mobile units: enterprise services, BlackBerry Messenger, and the QNX operating system.
Forget new projects that attempt to move with the market. BlackBerry was going to stick to its guns and do what it did best.
Well, my friends, it looks like it’s starting to pay off. And the reason I’m saying BlackBerry is finally on the comeback trail, really boils down to one word: Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL).
We all know how much firepower Apple carries with it, and this time, Apple’s gunpowder is BlackBerry’s QNX operating platform — the QNX CAR 2 infotainment system to be exact.
Apple announced that its so-called “iOS in a car” is the real deal. It’s being called Apple CarPlay and it comes right before this week’s Geneva Auto Show. Apple partners Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo will all unveil vehicles with the CarPlay system enabled at the show.
BlackBerry’s QNX CAR 2 operating system will be behind it all.
The system will require users to have an iPhone, and many functions will be run through Siri, with access to notifications and voice command-driven calls and messaging. The user will also have access to iTunes, podcasts, and third-party streaming services.
The whole idea behind the CarPlay concept is to engage iPhone users more readily in their vehicles, and give them the hands free entertainment that they want with minimal distractions.
Initially, there was some speculation as to what operating system Apple would be using, but N4BB put that to rest when they reached out to Paul Leroux at QNX who had this to say:
“Connectivity to smartphones and other mobile devices is a key strength of QNX Software Systems’ platform for car infotainment systems, and many automakers and tier one automotive suppliers use our platform to implement smartphone/head-unit integration in their vehicles. We have a long-standing partnership with Apple to ensure high-quality connectivity with their devices, and this partnership extends to support for Apple CarPlay.”
The list of manufacturers lining up for CarPlay goes on and on. Others include: BMW (ETR: BMW), Ford (NYSE: F), General Motors (NYSE: GM), Honda (NYSE: HMC), Hyundai (KRX: 005380), Jaguar, Kia (KRX: 000270), Mitsubishi (TYO: 8058), Nissan (TYO: 7201), Peugeot Citroën, Subaru (TYO: 9632), Suzuki (TYO: 7269), and Toyota (NYSE: TM).
While Apple appears to have solid footing with its new iOS car system, Ford is one automaker that isn’t ready yet to relinquish old ties.
Its Ford SYNC system has been a strong basis for Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) push into the auto industry, but as that system seems to be sputtering along; many are wondering if Microsoft can keep the pace.
There was a recent rumor that Ford would make the switch to BlackBerry’s QNX system, but the company insists that it’s just a rumor, and that for the time being, they’re keeping their options open and will likely be working with both Microsoft and Apple in the future, as well as others.
Ford SYNC launched in 2007, and is designed by Microsoft and powered by Windows Embedded Automotive operating system. It has seen countless updates and revisions, and is considered the first so-called smart infotainment system, but it still has yet to be completely user friendly.
But really, whether Ford is in or out, it’s not going to stop Apple, as long as everybody else wants in. As long as CarPlay is a success, BlackBerry is right there riding the coattails.
And we can’t forget that BlackBerry has the government on its side. If we get out of our cars, federal employees still rely solely on the stringent security needs and benefits that BlackBerry provides. They’re the only mobile device management (MDM) provider with the authority to operate on U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) networks. And internationally, all seven G7 governments (the U.S., Japan, France, Germany, Italy, U.K. and Canada) are BlackBerry customers.
Internationally, BlackBerry is stronger than ever before, and while I may be jumping the gun just a smidge, I’ve got to say BlackBerry is back, baby… If you would have bought shares in BBRY back in December when things were looking bleak, you’d have doubled your money by now!