After the worst scare in a generation, global markets snapped back late in 2009. Beleaguered Canadian techs, many of which were forced to make staff reductions and other cutbacks, largely participated in the broad based recovery.
But Vancouver’s Intrinsyc Software, a mobile software developer that should have naturally benefited from the global smart phone boom, was not one of them.
Intrinsyc, which was founded in 1992 as ITC Microcomponents and changed its name 1997, soared to over $3 in 2001. But the company has battled through a myriad of restructurings and false starts in the decade since. As late as last year, the company cut David Manuel, the company’s vice-president of device development and Souheil Gallouzi, vice-president of mobile product development, without replacing the positions. It then discontinued its Soleus line, a Windows embedded software platform launched in 2006 that many investors had held out a lot of hope for. More recent attempts to right the ship, such as the acquisition of wireless GPS provider Destinator Technologies didn’t seem to stick; in the most recent quarter, only 24% of Intrinsyc’s total revenue came from software solutions, and sales of Destinator have slipped. Increasingly, Intrinsyc has made money from one-off jobs and service contracts, such as their work for on the Symbian, a Nokia software platform for smart phones.
But this week, hardened Intrinsyc skeptics, those who barely blinked in November when the company managed a Q3 return to profit, started lapping up shares again. Intrinsyc has tripled since February 1st to trade to at an intraday high of $.24 cents today on volume of more than 20 million shares. The reason? Research in Motion. Or, more precisely, QNX.
Last Thursday Intrinsyc announced it had joined the QNX Partner Network. QNX, for those not familiar, was acquired by RIM from Harman International this past April. Many perceived the move to be the Blackberry maker’s entry into the automotive sector. But, as it turns out, QNX is set to become a much bigger piece of the RIM puzzle than anyone, outside of perhaps co-CEO Mike Lazaridis himself, may have anticipated.
After the acquisition, RIM quickly put the QNX Neutrino architecture to use for its upcoming entry into the burgeoning tablet market, The Playbook. And QNX’s Neutrino is now set to become the default operating system for all BlackBerry devices.
Investors Tuesday are betting that the QNX relationship could be a major boon to Intrinsyc. But the work could also represent a major challenge, as some believe QNX’s Neutrino operating system represents a major leap forward for RIM.
Blogger Alec Saunders, who was once VP of Marketing for QNX Software for and later helped Microsoft launch Windows 95 and the first two versions of Internet Explorer, gave his readers a glimpse into what RIM may be actually up to here:
“One of QNX technology hallmarks is its distributed message passing architecture. Applications can run parts of themselves transparently on different processors and devices on a network. To understand what this means, think about the technology future shown in the movie Avatar where applications were transparently dragged from one screen to another, the screen then detached by the user, and the user walked away with the same application running on the portable device. Was it just artistic license, or was the PlayBook launch video trying to communicate a similar vision for BlackBerry, Playbook and QNX? Perhaps the message of the video is that a world is coming in which your mobile device will transparently interact with all kinds of other computers in your environment – like cars, projectors, desktop PC’s, entertainment consoles, music devices and televisions. QNX is already in those kinds of applications today…”
Below: RIM BlackBerry PlayBook with QNX software hands-on demo from CES 2011