BlackBerry Maker Accquires Car-Infotainment Specialist

BlackBerry maker RIM has made a deal to buy QNX which offers in-vehicle “infotainment and telematics systems”

Research In Motion has reached an agreement to acquire QNX Software Systems from Harman International, the companies announced on 9 April.

The purchase offers a number of new avenues down which RIM might grow its BlackBerry brand. QNX’s open-platform operating system, Neutrino, is currently deployed in business sectors that include industrial, telecommunications, medical, defense, aerospace and automotive — the latter of which seems of particular interest to RIM.
“RIM is excited about the planned acquisition of QNX Software Systems and we look forward to ongoing collaboration between Harman, QNX and RIM to further integrate and enhance the user experience between smartphones and in-vehicle audio and infotainment systems,” Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO of RIM, said in a statement.

On 17 March, QNX announced that its technology had been licensed for more than 17 million in-vehicle systems worldwide, an increase of 130 percent since 2008. QNX-based “infotainment and telematics systems” are currently in more than 200 vehicle models from brands such as Audi, BMW, Ford, Land Rover, Toyota and Volkswagen, among others, according to the company.

“In addition to our interests in expanding the opportunities for QNX in the automotive sector and other markets,” Lazaridis continued, “we believe the planned acquisition of QNX will also bring other value to RIM in terms of supporting certain unannounced product plans for intelligent peripherals, adding valuable intellectual property to RIM’s portfolio and providing long-term synergies for the companies based on the significant and complementary OS expertise that exists within the RIM and QNX teams today.”

On 4 April, RIM announced the results of its fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2010 — which saw revenue increase by 35 percent over its fiscal 2009 numbers.

During a conference call with analysts and media to discuss the quarter, Jim Balsillie, also a RIM co-CEO, likewise hinted at exciting product plans that RIM had yet to announce. 
“If you saw what we were doing with the platform and you saw our road map, our carrier channel programs and the international engagement,” Balsillie enthused on the call. “I can’t talk about what’s not announced, but … if you saw the road map, you’d be blown away.”

Harman President and CEO Dinesh C. Paliwal said his company expected to maintain close ties with QNX. “We believe our leading customers will fully endorse this move and see it as a major step in advancing seamless connectivity and integration among intelligent devices,” Paliwal said in the statement.

Dan Dodge, CEO of QNX, added that he was thrilled for the opportunity. “Moreover,” he said, “RIM will give us the best of all possible mandates: to continue on our innovation path and to increase investment in our core products, professional services and go-to-market channels.” 
The deal is expected to close within 35 to 45 days and is subject to regulatory approval.