RIM makes a play for Car tech market

RIM is making moves to acquire Ottawa-based QNX Software Systems from Audio equipment maker Harman International. QNX produces a Linux based operating system, aimed primarily at the embedded systems market. While RIM already possesses its own mobile platform and a developer ecosystem that the company has been aggressively building apps for off-late, the new acquisition allows for it to penetrate an emerging hot new market of in-car wireless technology.

QNX has established a firm foothold in the automotive world especially among Tier 1 car manufacturers and suppliers such as Acura, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Nissan and Toyota who use QNX software for their hands-free systems, connectivity modules, 3-D navigation systems and rear-seat entertainment products. It has also been involved in projects implementing Long Term Evolution (LTE) broadband connectivity in cars. Apart  from endless possibilities that crop up in terms of integrating RIM’s e-mail capable blackberries with in-car infotainment systems and  syncing up internet connected car appliances, RIM is expected to also spread its reach into dashboards and fully fledged in-vehicle communications. The Waterloo, Canada based Blackberry maker also hinted that aside from the obvious opportunities that will open up in the Auto industry, there are other “unannounced product plans” that QNX‘s software will be deployed in.

According to a recent survey from online market researchers Crowd Science, 90% of iPhone and Android phone users will stay with their brands, while 40% of Blackberry users continue to prefer Apple’s iPhone as their next smart phone purchase, and 32% of them would also switch to the Android operating system. RIM also came in with less than satisfactory earnings last week with revenues, EPS, and unit shipments coming in lower than consensus, especially in North America where it is facing stiff competition from iPhone and android devices. With QNX, RIM could save face by procuring a head start on the competition in the current race to turn cars into hot spots.