Canadian hardware and software maker BlackBerry hopes IoT will revive its flagging sales – and plans to roll-out a series of new IoT initiatives at the CES exhibition in Las Vegas next month.
Although BlackBerry has struggled in recent years to reproduce its early smartphone success, there is hope on the horizon as the software side of the company continues to grow. Since acquiring real-time operating system QNX in 2010, Blackberry has, despite the launch of its new Priv Android smartphone, started a shift away from mobiles and is now moving to smart systems to help operate a host of IoT devices.
Perhaps the most well-known QNX-backed devices out there at the moment are in the automotive industry, with motoring giant Ford reliant on Blackberry to provide the brains behind its in-car entertainment systems. Having said this, BlackBerry has licensed the software to other manufacturers, including applications within self-driving cars.
Although BlackBerry CEO John Chen in a recent interview with Bloomberg admitted to being eager to work with pioneers in the self-driving car industry such as Apple, Tesla and Google, BlackBerry have already begun working on features with smaller partners. These include the ability to stay in a lane during corners and sensing the vehicle ahead to apply the brakes without input from the driver. According to a statement earlier this week, Switzerland-based Luxoft is one partner ready to combine object-tracking technology with QNX’s operating system.
Speaking with Bloomberg late last week, Chen said in the coming year he expects that Blackberry “will start seeing some IoT [related] growth and more of the QNX, which is in the auto industry today and will also be used in the medical industry. We won’t rely completely on acquisitions [for further growth]”. This hints at major announcements for January’s CES conference, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics events. Chen is expected to capitalise on the steady success of the QNX operating system and push its use out across the Internet of Things.
It’s expected that a number of potential IoT initiatives will be highlighted in the New Year, as Blackberry look to secure a foothold as a reputable software supplier.
Financially, a bold statement of intent toward the IoT makes a lot of sense. As well as it being a lucrative market full of potential, on Friday BlackBerry reported a narrower third-quarter loss than analysts estimated as software revenue gained.