BlackBerry Hopes for Growth From Connected Cars

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."

Want to know more about the Internet of Things? Check out our dedicated IoT content channel here on Light Reading.

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

kq4ym 4/14/2017 | 11:22:37 AM
Re: QNX If Blackberry could play up their software being used in those Fords and Jaguars it might be a good PR move to get public and investor interest going. It's a stat that I didn't know, their software being in half the cars. If they can increase that with IoT of the future it should be a winning business plan.
brooks7 4/3/2017 | 9:28:21 PM
Re: QNX It was 1985...QNX was started in 82.


bosco_pcs 4/3/2017 | 7:49:29 PM
Re: QNX Was it before Harman or post Harman?

I was being sloppy :) but when I talked about QNX, I meant QNX Software Blackberry bought from Harman, granted that its embedded nature and telematic functionalities have been developed since its QUNIX inception
brooks7 4/3/2017 | 7:34:17 PM
Re: QNX I looked at using QNX when I working on an X.25 PAD.  It has been around a few weeks.

bosco_pcs 4/3/2017 | 6:41:21 PM
Re: QNX Da & 7, both of you have a point. That said, remember QNX was ahead of others even before Chen got the gig. 

Being the platform has a lot of advantages. It could choose partners and pick which parts of the connected car it wanted to position itself.

The fact that Apple proached both QNX founders says something about the technologies. And BBRY's messenging and security are no slouch. Ultimately, investing is about returns but that doesn't stop the likes of Tesla and Amazon from growing their businesses because of their mindshares and dominant positions. 

Think about it, the reason why BBRY fell from grace is it spent time minting money but forgot to build the moat and a vibrant ecosystem analogous to Microsoft's Windows and Apple's App Store & iTune.

brooks7 4/3/2017 | 6:04:39 PM
Re: QNX And don't forget liability...

You can expect your car to be hacked and potentially crashed for you.  There is no way that consumers are going to hold nobody liable for that.


DanJones 4/3/2017 | 5:42:07 PM
Re: QNX The problem is timing. I think many people's assumption is that the connected car market is going to be huge, but when, exactly? And the ARPU (recurring revenue) -- for BB at least -- seems to be in the $5 or less range. This could change, but it seems a lot of work and outlay to take a risk on a market that might arrive later than  expected. 
bosco_pcs 4/3/2017 | 3:29:53 PM
QNX BBRY CEO Chen should have bailed out of handset earlier and put more resources in the QNX platform, which enjoyed a lot of competitive advantages when Microsoft-Ford partnership in SYNC got into trouble. 

Understandably, there might be external constraints placed on Chen, namely, Canada.

Never is too late so the late pivot is better than no pivot, even when both founders were hired away by Apple
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