Blackberry announced that it had reached an agreement with Ford Motors to be involved in Ford’s Vision for self-driving cars. Ford hope to start active production and sale of these cars by the year 2025. Thought Ford hope that six years from now, they would have started producing self-driving taxis (about 100,000 units a year) for taxi companies wishing to take up the self-driving car option.
When Blackberry announced at the end of September that quitting the hardware business did not translate to the end of Blackberry as a business concern, not many people believed they could pull it off. But the partnership with Ford is just what the CEO of Blackberry. John Chen, was talking about.
While Ford would produce the cars, some of the most important softwares that would power the cars would be made by Blackberry.
Already, the QNX technology patented by Blackberry is already in use by Ford in their cars’ infotainment ecosystem.
So this is a partnership of people who already have a form of working relationship. However before this announcement, Ford had been paying Panasonic for the privilege of using QNX.
Basically, Blackberry is just calling in the chips and at the same time making a long term deal with Ford. A win-win situation for both parties I guess.
Announcing the deal in the blog post, Blackberry said:
Our new agreement with Ford signifies the acceleration in our company’s pivot from hardware to software and extends our leading position in the automotive sector, where security and mobility are critical for the connected car.
We’ll be providing Ford with an unmatched, holistic solution, protected by BlackBerry’s legendary security pedigree, technology, and services and the highly reliable, safety-certified, and secure QNX software platform, to secure and power the connected car.”
When self-driving autonomous cars are mentioned, people who know about the development in the industry hardly think of Ford. Google is the name people hear the most. But other automobile manufacturers are also very active on the development of these cars.
In ford’s case for instance, to meet up with the target of making commercially available self-driving cars to the public in 10 years, they have been recruiting quality personnel to fast track the project.
In their self-driving fleet of test cars, Ford recently added 60 more units to the 30 they already had.
Though Ford is doing all it can to be a major player, their timetable for rolling out the self-driving cars would a bit later than some companies like Google and Mercedes Benz. Not withstanding that though, Ford would not be far behind whatever happens. Sometimes being late doesn’t mean much.
Matter of fact, that in itself could be good publicity as people wait in anticipate to see how good it is against the earlier models.
As for Blackberry, the deal with Ford could just be the beginning of bigger things to come in the future.
Put it this way, if it turns out that the software Blackberry is integrating into Ford’s autonomous cars are the best, the knock on effect is that other car manufacturers might want to use the same system for their own cars.
Imagine all the manufacturers or even users preferring self-driving cars with Blackberry software because of its superiority to other softwares? A scenario like that is just a short hop to a situation where Blackberry is the dominant software in self-driving cars.
Just as they were once the dominant smartphone maker in the world. Or just like the Android Operating system is the dominant OS in the world right now.
I don’t think that is far-fetched.
image credit: theverge.com; forbes.com; autox.in; fortune.com