BlackBerry Ltd’s QNX claims supremacy in the connected car, but Google’s Android is gaining ground
Even before things started to really go south for BlackBerry Ltd., it was clear that its purchase of QNX Software Systems in April 2010 was a transformative acquisition. The deal gave Research In Motion, as it was then known, the basis for its next operating system and, vitally, provided a foot in the door of the emerging connected-car market.
Owning BlackBerry Ltd. shares requires a strong stomach and over the last few months many investors have decided to say goodbye to the stock’s dips and peaks
BlackBerry’s decline over the next few years is well-trodden territory, with the once-dominant company’s share of the global smartphone market collapsing to 0.5% by the third quarter of 2014. But, unlike so many other decisions BlackBerry made in the interim, the acquisition of QNX was a success. The Ottawa-based company, which was founded by two University of Waterloo graduates in the early 1980s, had already established its presence in the global auto industry when it was acquired by Stanford, Conn.-based Harman International Industries in 2004. Harman greatly increased QNX’s presence in cars, making it an industry leader by the time the 270-employee company was sold to Research In Motion.
Today, thanks to QNX, BlackBerry commands more than half of the rapidly growing market for in-vehicle infotainment — software that manages everything from music and phone calls to navigation and weather forecasts in your car.
QNX generates only a small fraction of BlackBerry’s revenue — results for the division aren’t broken out, but “software and other” accounted for about 8% of BlackBerry’s total revenue in its most recent quarter. However, the in-vehicle software market is one of the only areas left where the company can claim supremacy.
“Not only is the demand in the individual vehicles skyrocketing, but the demand in each vehicle — how many systems can run on our operating system — is skyrocketing too,” Andrew Poliak, QNX’s global director of automotive business development, said in a recent interview.
He added that more than half of QNX’s revenue comes from the auto industry.
A 2013 forecast from the GSM Association of mobile operators predicted that the connected-car market will be worth €39 billion (about $56 billion) by 2018, triple its value in 2012, thanks to a sevenfold increase in the number of new cars with mobile connectivity.
And Mark Boyadjis, senior automotive technology analyst at IHS, estimates that there will be 400 million connected cars on the road by 2020, up from 82 million in 2014