BlackBerry isn’t a company with a great track record of staying ahead of the market.
The company was once a leader in the fledgling smartphone business, but quickly faded into irrelevance with the advent of Apple and Android devices. Not only has BlackBerry failed to compete in the new landscape of smartphones, it has become something of a punchline in the industry. Most of us don’t even notice it exist anymore.
This is why my first reaction to news of a Ford/BlackBerry partnership was laden with consternation and full of questions, such as: Will future Fords only work with BlackBerry phones?
A little bit of research cleared up any questions and even proved that this deal could be a very good thing for both Ford and BlackBerry. But what about for you, the consumer?
Little did I know, but BlackBerry software is currently used in upwards of 60 million cars around the world. The company has shifted its focus from devices to software and is finding success in software that powers infotainment systems. BlackBerry licenses that software to infotainment hardware vendors, who then sell to the automakers.
The Ford deal is the first time BlackBerry will sell directly to a major automaker, which could open up other opportunities for the company in the auto industry, in addition to padding its bottom line.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen said,
The future of the automobile is all about embedded intelligence. I believe our expertise in secure embedded software makes us the preferred technology provider to put the smart in the car.
So, what does this mean for you, the person who buys a Ford powered by BlackBerry software? For one thing, it means the end of the Microsoft deal. Other than that, we’re not exactly sure yet. We do know that automakers partnering with tech firms is becoming increasingly popular, as the race toward driverless cars continues. Tesla and Google have a long head start in the field, but Ford has promised full autonomy by 2021. The BlackBerry deal could help Ford stay on track.
It’s still unknown how the deal will affect, if at all, Ford’s Sync software, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto functionality. We do know, however, that the BlackBerry deal isn’t anything to fear… or make fun of.
In fact, if all goes well, you may still not even notice its existence.
How do you feel about BlackBerry software in your new Ford?