Thursday, 27 March 2014

BlackBerry’s Next Battle, QNX and the Internet Of Everything

BlackBerry’s Next Battle, QNX

BlackBerry’s QNX operating system is used to power its BlackBerry 10 phones and has become the preferred technology for mapping, communication and entertainment systems in cars from Chrysler to luxury brands Porsche and BMW.
“QNX is one of the more, if not the most valuable, assets in BlackBerry right now, “said Mark Boyadjis, an analyst at IHS Automotive in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Why is QNX Leading the Race in Car Operating Systems?

Fortune magazine asked analysts what reputation QNX carries, and got phrases like "rock solid" or "a solution for things that can't crash". This is understandable considering that an OS crash while traveling at Motorway speeds could result in an actual crash. In a 2003 interview, one QNX customer jokingly told Fortune, "The only way to make this software malfunction is to fire a bullet into the computer running it."
One of QNX’s biggest-selling points is that it’s a microkernel-based operating system.  This means it has multiple layers or servers that keep operating even if one is shut off or freezes. Stability is indispensable in environments where a server crash could be fatal, and QNX won contracts with the U.S. Army’s unmanned Crusher tank and nuclear power plants operated by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
QNX has wielded its stellar reputation and carved out an early lead in the auto car management and infotainment market shipping more than 9 million units in 2011.  According to Derek Kuhn, vice president of sales and marketing QNX shipped 9 Million units or 60% of all such units sold globally. Audi, Toyota (TM), BMW, Porsche, Honda (HMC), Land Rover all contain QNX , and Kuhn estimates QNX software currently operates in "tens of millions" of cars around the globe. An automotive industry report from IHS Automotive states infotainment revenues at $6.7 billion for 2013.  The connected-car market is predicted to reach around $50 billion in 2018.
See Paul Leroux's blog about the next gen QNX cars here

Mercedes Benz QNX

QNX is set to carry forward its leadership position

John Chen's vision of the future is crystal clear, he states “All of a sudden, with the industry’s move on connected cars and the ‘Internet of Things’ and machine-to-machine and Big Data, it seems to be all colliding and helping us in where we position ourselves,” Chen said this said in an telephone interview with Bloomberg earlier this month. “Now our job is to continue to lead in that space and also branch out to other verticals.”
While Apple and Google Android have started to bring apps to the automotive industry, it does not have an automotive OS.  In contrast, BlackBerry QNX’s CAR 2.0 platform, as demonstrated on the QNX Bentley, is often referred to as the industry’s gold standard.  The best example is GM’s well-known OnStar system, which is powered by QNX Neutrino.  With a long list of customers including Acura, Audi, BMW, GM, Hyundai and Porsche, QNX has a significant lead in the industry.

The competition? What about Apple’s CarPlay.

Apple introduced the CarPlay platform earlier this month at a car show in Geneva, where Fiat SpA’s Ferrari unit, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Volvo Car Group showcased technology enabling hands-free use of an iPhone.  Inside the car, In this situation Apple and BlackBerry are collaborators rather
than rivals. QNX software allows CarPlay to recreate the iPhone experience on the console’s screen, with icons familiar to iPhone users, including Phone, Messages and Maps.  Under pinning CarPlay QNX.

Apple CarPlay

(Here is a nice video)

What about Google Android?

Google’s free Android operating system, currently dominates the global smartphone market much as Nokia did 10 years ago. Google is now trying to replicate its phone success with cars. On Jan. 6, the Mountain View, California-based company announced the creation of the Open Automotive Alliance with Audi AG (NSU), General Motors Co., Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co.
Mary Chan, president of GM’s Connected Consumer unit, said in a statement that day that the carmaker saw “huge opportunities” for Android to pair with its OnStar car communications and tracking system. OnStar, however, as already mentioned relies on QNX for alerts in emergencies and for hands-free operations.
Kuhn said Google and QNX have been collaborating for many years, including the integration of Google Earth into Audi cars, and still remain partners.


It’s not just about Cars

John Chen is looking beyond cars to anywhere technology is needed to enable machines and computers to talk to each other. (Machine-to-Machine, M2M)
“Whether it’s healthcare, housing, hospitality, construction, retail, it’s all going to come to the same stage where cloud-based, all-things-connected is going to be a big application movement,” Chen said. “With QNX and other technology we have back-end servers and security it’s going to be a good play for us on machine-to-machine.”

Back in January Alex Saunders accepted the role of Vice President of QNX Cloud and was given a simple mission by John Chen “while there are 5 billion handsets in the world that we want to connect to, there may be 500 billion devices out there” (to connect with).  This will be the Internet of things becoming reality.

The mission is simple to state but no doubt difficult to execute. I wish him well.