The BlackBerry smartphone business as you know it may be dead but it looks like its self-driving car unit is alive and kicking. Known as the QNX division of BlackBerry, it has tested autonomous cars on Canadian roads as the company plans to spend C$100m/$75m on its Ottawa facility. Let me add that this is actually not a new business for BlackBerry as it has reportedly been working on this software for about 20 years which makes it’s safe to say, the company is actually now focusing on what you can call one of its core businesses.
Software is something you can’t take away from BlackBerry. While its mobile OS may not be blamed for the demise of the smartphone brand, the blame can largely go to the inability of the company catch up to the likes of Apple and Samsung with respect to trends. Even at that, its messenger (BBM) which is now a cross platform application is now installed on over 190 million devices as at 2015. Just to make you understand this better, when they launched BBM on Android and iOS in October 2013, they recorded 5 million downloads in the first eight hours and at the end of the day (21st October, 2013), that number had swelled to 10 million. Before the end of the year, it was the number one free app in the App Store and Google Play. That’s how much people love BBM even though it still lags behind competitors like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
BlackBerry’s info-tianment software is used in about 60 million cars as of today and this means that BlackBerry is now well into self-driving (autonomous) cars and connected cars and yes there’s no way to compete with others without the AI component which means there’s going to be a lot of investment and focus on this area.
Sorry if this brings back some good memories of the onetime smartphone leader but you can take solace in the fact that they are focusing their energy on other meaningful technologies that will shape the future.
The United States still leads this field as Uber has now launched its self-driving services in the cities of Pittsburgh and San Francisco.