BlackBerry Is Helping Apple Connect Your iPhone to Your Car


BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) stock is rising on reports that its QNX platform is being used in Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) CarPlay in-car infotainment system. Apple unveiled CarPlay – the new and improved version of iOS in the car — at the Geneva Motor Show on Monday. The system allows iPhone users to access most of their smartphone’s functions through their car.

BGR first reported the rumor that BlackBerry was partnering with Apple on the system. QNX has been used for in-car infotainment in a variety of vehicles to allow the use of smartphones through a screen on a car’s dashboard. An employee with QNX confirmed the partnership to a different website.

“Connectivity to smartphones and other mobile devices is a key strength of QNX Software Systems’ platform for car infotainment systems, and many automakers and tier one automotive suppliers use our platform to implement smartphone/head-unit integration in their vehicles. We have a long-standing partnership with Apple to ensure high-quality connectivity with their devices, and this partnership extends to support for Apple CarPlay,” QNX executive Paul Leroux confirmed to N4BB.

The two rivals teaming up on such a big project comes as a bit of a surprise. Competition from Apple’s iPhone has essentially caused the downfall of BlackBerry as a maker of consumer smartphones.

Auto has been one of the few bright spots for BlackBerry, as a variety of automakers use QNX for their in-car tech and the system is known to be reliable. In-vehicle infotainment is seen as one of the next new frontiers for mobile technology as the smartphone market becomes increasingly saturated. While BlackBerry’s smartphone efforts have almost ended the company, getting a head start on new arenas like in-car tech in addition to focusing on areas where the company has already had some success, like enterprise and messaging, are both key parts of new CEO John Chen’s turnaround plan.

Given the popularity of Apple’s smartphones, having CarPlay will be a highly desired feature for those looking to buy a new car. As explained by Apple in a press release, the Siri-powered system allows users to make calls, listen to messages, and dictate responses — all without using their hands. Users also have the option to enhance any Apple Maps shown on the dashboard display by having Siri provide spoken turn-by-turn directions. Unsurprisingly, CarPlay will also give users access to Apple’s iTunes Radio, as well as any other music, audiobooks, or podcasts. According to Apple’s CarPlay page, the system will also support third-party apps like Beats Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio. Overall, it will be a great way to multitask during driving time while still keeping your eyes on the road.

A wide variety of car makers are set to include the feature soon. Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo will get it right away, while BMW, Ford (NYSE:F), General Motors (NYSE:GM), Honda (NYSE:HMC), Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan (NSANY.PK), PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota (NYSE:TM) are set to include the system in the near future.

Having the best in-car connectivity is a key concern for automakers as well. A study completed by Accenture in December 2013 showed 39 percent of consumers prize connectivity above any other factor in buying a new car. By contrast, only 14 percent said actual driving performance mattered most when they went shopping for an automobile. Consumers want cars that can monitor their own performance, alert drivers to mechanical problems, and allow drivers a hands-free connection with their smartphones. The combining the reliable QNX and the popular iOS could be a perfect match to give drivers just what they’re looking for.

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