4/8/2014 | 1 MINUTE READ

BlackBerry's Biggest Market: Connected Cars

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BlackBerry Ltd., whose ubiquitous phones dominated smartphone sales a few years ago, now controls less than 1% of the global market.

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BlackBerry Ltd., whose ubiquitous phones dominated smartphone sales a few years ago, now controls less than 1% of the global market. But the QNX operating system used in its latest models also is the auto industry's most popular option for telecommunications, Bloomberg News notes.

GSMA, the global association of wireless service providers, estimates the global market for technologies that connect smartphones and cars will jump from about $18 billion in 2012 to nearly $60 billion by 2018.

John Chen, who took over as BlackBerry's CEO in November, tells the news service the company aims to defend its lead in helping the auto industry develop connected cars. But Bloomberg says the company will face challenges from the same competitors that have pushed it out of the smartphone market: Apple and Google.

That hasn't happened so far. For now, QNX software enables Apple's new CarPlay platform to access iPhones wirelessly with Apple-type icons that appear on a vehicle's display screen. BlackBerry marketing chief tells Bloomberg the two companies have collaborated for years.

Similarly, QNX has partnered with Google to incorporate Google Earth into Audi cars. But lately a few carmakers have begun introducing Google's Android smartphone operating system into their vehicles. And in January Google formed the Open Automotive Alliance with Audi, General Motors, Honda and Hyundai to promote the Android system for automotive use.

Yet QNX continues to capture more business in the auto sector. In February Ford Motor Co. switched from Microsoft Corp.'s in-car operating system to QNX for its troubled Sync touchscreen and voice command system, according to unidentified Bloomberg sources.

Analysts say a big advantage for QNX is its layered architecture, which enables it to keep working even if part of the software freezes. That makes the operating system especially appealing to control safety-related connectivity features.

IHS Automotive estimates that QNX will generate some $100 million in revenue for BlackBerry in 2014, about 90% of it from the auto industry.

GSMA, the global association of wireless service providers, estimates the global market for technologies that connect smartphones and cars will jump from about $18 billion in 2012 to nearly $60 billion by 2018.