BlackBerry’s QNX division is one of the Canadian company’s rare bright spots: The software maker’s operating system is a key ingredient in the infotainment offerings of a large number of automakers (BlackBerry says it’s currently running in over 60 million vehicles), and it’s now going to become even more integral to Ford’s connected cars.
Ford and BlackBerry just signed a new agreement to expand Ford’s use of BlackBerry’s QNX and security software in its connected vehicles. Ford went to QNX to power its SYNC 3 in-car infotainment system, kicking Microsoft to the curb after it provided the basis for the original Sync and its successor, both of which were widely criticized for their flaws.
BlackBerry says it will put a team dedicated to Ford in place, with the aim of helping the automaker expand its use of QNX in a number of different areas. The specifics of the deal aren’t being revealed, including financial terms.
The deal cuts out a layer of intermediation between Ford and QNX, at the very least, turning BlackBerry into a Tier 1 supplier, whereas most of BlackBerry’s business with automakers previously has been through another link in the supply chain, like Panasonic in this case.
While the press release makes no mention of autonomous driving specifically, QNX’s software is cleared for use in self-driving systems, and Ford is pursuing autonomous tech aggressively, so it’s likely BlackBerry’s software will figure into those plans.