BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) has been hammered over the past few years to due to its persistent failures in the smartphone industry, where the Canadian company was once a juggernaut. The company announced in September to shutdown its smartphone business and focus only on software development. BlackBerry’s (NASDAQ:BBRY) CEO John Chen said this move would help the company reduce capital requirements and enhance its return on invested capital. But software isn’t the only domain through which Blackberry is planning to stage a comeback. The company is quietly ramping up its self-driving car software arsenal to compete with big names in the industry, including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). Blackberry is the owner of QNX OS, a commercial Unix-like real-time operating system for cars. This OS is used in Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system and it also supports General Motors’ OnStar system and the Audi TT virtual cockpit. QNX system has over 47% of the market share. Blackberry’s QNX system also supports Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) CarPlay. As of the end of 2014, QNX powered over 60 million vehicles, while 40 car companies rely on the software. This way, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) is a market leader in the connected car space. The company provides navigation, telemetrics, rear-seat entertainment and infotainment systems for cars.
BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) is planning to seize a major chunk of the autonomous cars industry, which is expected to have a $2.6 trillion total value by the end of 2030. Blackberry is customizing and modifying its QNX OS to provide a useful software for autonomous cars. There hasn’t been much progress in this domain, so the Canadian company has bright chances of market penetration.
According to Grant Courville, senior director of product management at Blackberry-owned QNX, the plan is not to build hardware for self-driving cars, but to provide software platforms for them. Blackberry will have brighter prospects of selling its car systems to autonomous car makers in the future. With this plan, the company will stick to its software model and will not have to expand its expenses. The company recently launched its BlackBerry QNX Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre (AVIC) in Ontario, Canada, where it can test its systems for self-driving cars.
In December, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) surprised investors by posting profit for the fiscal third quarter. The net loss in the period came in at $117, compared to $372 million posted in same quarter last year.
BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) has a major competitor in its backyard: Apple. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) poached several of QNX employees recently, including its former chief executive Dan Dodge. Apple has also dumped plans to build its own self-driving cars, but it is now focused on making plug-and-play self-driving OS for innovative cars. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has a major facility in Ottawa, Canada, which is its hub of self-driving software projects. The competition between Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) is expected to heat up in 2017.