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Is RIM About to Become a Leader in the Connected Car Space?

QNX's CAR 2 platform at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. UK market research firm IMS says the world market for connected cars will see 650 percent growth from 5.4 million units in 2010, to exceed 40.5 million unit sales in 2017
QNX's CAR 2 platform at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. UK market research firm IMS says the world market for connected cars will see 650% growth, from 5.4 million units in 2010, to more than 40.5 million unit sales in 2017.

May 30th update: Today’s widely read “Internet Trends” report from Mary Meeker highlighted the opportunity in the connected car space. While many know Research in Motion acquisition QNX because it is also known as BlackBerry 10, the new operating system for BlackBerry devices and the BlackBerry PlayBook, QNX is also an emerging leader in the connected car space, and unveiled new technology at this years Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that won the “Best of CES Award” in the Car Tech category.

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Research in Motion’s presence was decidedly low key.

With a long wait until the company’s new operating system, Blackberry 10, is unveiled the company, it seemed, had nothing as splashy as last year’s BlackBerry Playbook to unveil.

RIM’s QNX CAR 2 application platform, which won a Best of CES Award in the Car Tech category, was perceived by many as a demonstration of the powers of the much maligned but soon to be updated PlayBook, which was prominently featured in the dash and headrests of the Porsche, and is the first device to feature RIM’s new QNX operating system.

But is does RIM co-CEO, and noted car lover, Mike Lazardis have something bigger planned?

When RIM acquired QNX, in April of 2010, Lazaridis said the company was interested “…in expanding the opportunities for QNX in the automotive sector and other markets.” After it became clear that QNX was going to become the default operating system for all BlackBerry devices, the market might have assumed the automotive sector talk was a mere headfake. But considering the strong reception to the QNX concept car, should we have taken Lazaridis claim at face value?

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Ottawa’s QNX was founded in 1980 and acquired by Harman International in 2004. The company has developed an operating system called the QNX Neutrino, which is used in mission critical environments such as high speed trains in Europe and Japan, nuclear power plants, even the Canadarm. QNX management says its automotive technology is used in more than two-hundred vehicle models, which is more than all other platforms combined.

The QNX concept car that debuted at CES is based on a Porsche Carrera. The car includes one-touch Bluetooth smartphone pairing with Near Field Communications, HD voice technology, front-seat media control of the rear-seat tablets, and a new HTML5 framework QNX says will help enable automakers to keep their vehicles fresh with new content, address consumer demands for the latest mobile apps, and leverage a huge developer community.”

QNX says the point of the concept car is to demonstrate the the application platform to automakers and tier one suppliers to drive licensing deals. The QNX CAR 2 platform will be available midway through 2012.

A strong showing in the connected car market would provide a valuable and timely new revenue stream to RIM, which continues to lose market share in the mobile space.

The connected car market is hot. UK market research firm IMS says the world market for connected cars will see 650 percent growth, from 5.4 million units in 2010, to more than 40.5 million unit sales in 2017.

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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.

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