RIM Deals Add Up to New Car Connections

By April 09, 2010

Research In Motion, manufacturers of the BlackBerry smartphone series, announced its plan to purchase QNX today. The deal is expected to strengthen the penetration of QNX Software Systems in the automotive market. Harman Inter

national's audio, information and entertainment products are designed for auto, consumer and professional markets. QNX, acquired by Harman in 2004, uses the Neutrino open platform operating system used across business sectors for auto, industrial, telecommunications and other areas.

RIM expects to continue to collaborate with Harman and QNX after the acquisition. President and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis elaborated in a press release that they intend "to further integrate and enhance the user experience between smartphones and in-vehicle audio and infotainment systems." He also mentioned "certain unannounced product plans for intelligent peripherals" for RIM's portfolio.

The merge indicates to GigaOm another indication of RIM's intention to add its products to vehicles, especially after purchasing Internet-GPS device manufacturer Dash Navigation. This purchase, covered by Stacey Higginbotham, was made back in May 2009, and RIM paid over $8 million. While Dash devices began as web-based navigation gadgets, it also offered user recommendations and real-time traffic from other Dash devices simultaneously on the road. Higginbotham suggests that rather than wanting to acquire a single-purpose device, RIM was interested in Dash's unique form of mobile connectivity.

Kevin C. Tofel's article further specifies that QNX-enabled devices could go far beyond the scope of media playback. Tofel compares this to Microsoft's SYNC system, installed in over two million vehicles, which recently added Wi-Fi support.

Beyond the ramifications for RIM, some express concern that the handset maker will kill off QNX's other projects. A Slashdot post reads, "While RIM has offered somewhat limited support of open source projects on its BlackBerry platform, the future of QNX's Foundry27 development project, which uses the Apache 2.0 license , has not yet been mentioned."

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