BlackBerry -- already a largely software-based company -- is aiming to grab a larger portion of the automobile market as the connected car market progresses, the Canadian company's fourth-quarter fiscal 2017 results show.
BlackBerry -- formerly Research in Motion -- already has "over the half the market," for in-car "infotainment," John Chen, BlackBerry CEO said on last week's earnings call. He claimed that this currently represents 60 million vehicles.
"If anyone of you have a 2016 model Ford or a Jaguar or a number of different cars, you are using BlackBerry software," he said.
Chen said that connected cars, as well as the wider Internet of Things (IoT) market, represents a strategic focus for BlackBerry. The company is developing a vehicle management portal for automobile makers and their top tier suppliers. This is expected to be launched over the next 12 months.
Chen said that the car market is "a reasonably big piece of our growth plan." He is also expecting BlackBerry to be a player in the self-driving car market as that pulls into view "post-2020."
He clarified on the call, however, that BlackBerry wants to remain purely in the software realm for self-driving vehicles and help its automotive customers to develop products for this new market. (See What's Keeping the Lights on at BlackBerry?)
"I am building the components that enable other people to build their autonomous car," Chen said. BlackBerry has set up a self-driving car R&D center in Ottawa, Canada to work with partners on development of the next-generation vehicles.
The BlackBerry brand on mobile devices is not, however, disappearing. Chen said BlackBerry will launch its first Android-based smartphone with an old-school RIM-style QWERTY-keyboard onboard.
Chen also hinted that the company could deliver a BlackBerry-branded Android tablet with its software onboard. This device would be built by a partner and branded as a BlackBerry offering.
"I'm interested in that because I'm going to get royalty for every piece of tablet they ship," Chen said.
Overall, for the quarter ended February 28, BlackBerry reported a net loss down to $47 million -- or $0.10 per share -- from $238 million, or 45 cents per share, in the fourth quarter fiscal 2016, on revenue down 38% to $286 million. BlackBerry expects to become profitable on an adjusted basis in its fiscsal 2018.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading