The best opportunity for Blackberry to restore the glory it once enjoyed in the smartphone market is to be found elsewhere in the self-driving car industry.
Blackberry recently announced a partnership with Chinese internet giant Baidu to strengthen the information and safety functions of the Baidu Apollo self-driving car. The two companies are seeking to develop a Level 4 (and above) self-driving platform that is on par with Google’s Waymo.
Baidu will bring to the table its high-resolution maps, along with Blackberry’s QNX RTOS (real-time operating system). The first vehicles that will be equipped with these features are expected to be GAC Group’s new Aion EVs.
This is a great boon for Baidu Apollo’s self-driving platform – whether or not it’s a force to be reckoned with – as this system from Blackberry has been adopted by the automotive industry for a while now. QNX has seen service in Volkswagen cars, Porsche cars, and even the remote control functions of U.S. combat vehicles. At the moment, more than 100 million vehicles feature QNX.
The microarchitecture of QNX allows it to split and run the various functions within the OS into multiple smaller tasks. This characteristic lets developers adjust functions according to their needs. More importantly, this also sidesteps the problem of having the whole system fail if the centralized part fails, making QNX vastly advantageous for ensuring safety in self-driving cars.
▲The Blackberry QNX provides a comprehensive host of functionalities for the self-driving car (Source: Blackberry).
For Baidu, this collaboration marks an enormous endorsement. Blackberry’s longstanding reputation in information security will now be put to good use by Baidu in an effort to allay any doubts the public might harbor regarding the vehicles’ safety and reliability.
Blackberry has been hard at work behind the scenes since exiting the smartphone market. It seems to have found its perfect comeback in self-driving cars. In addition to collaborating with Baidu, Blackberry is also partnering with the so-called “Tesla killer” Xpeng in China and providing the latter with the QNX system. In the U.S., on the other hand, Blackberry is co-developing the Ivy automotive platform with Amazon.
It appears that the release of Baidu’s new car is imminent now that various resources are in order. Software-wise, this car is expected to run on Baidu Apollo’s in-house self-driving platform, while Geely will take care of the hardware.
Blackberry has been looking to transform its business model after it officially stopped making smartphones last August. Since news of the company’s partnership with Baidu came to light, Blackberry’s stock prices underwent a massive surge and more than doubled in 2021. The future of the Canadian company previously known for making smartphones remains to be seen.
(Image: Baidu Apollo)