5 changes BlackBerry must make to have a ghost of a chance

The company that once defined the smartphone needs to look elsewhere for its future

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5. Get real about embedded systems

Last week, Ford finally abandoned Microsoft's terrible Sync technology for in-car navigation and entertainment systems and chose to use in future cars the QNX operating system that BlackBerry bought a few years ago to be the basis for the BlackBerry 10 OS.

QNX is an embedded operating system, and it has a long history as such. But QNX is now a minor player, making just a few tens of millions of dollars for BlackBerry last year, according to Sepharim analyst Egan.

Yet there's a new gold rush going on called the Internet of things, aka IoT, for which embedded OSes are critical. Apple has been quietly in the game for two years with its iOS-based CarPlay effort (formerly named iOS in the Car), with more than a dozen car companies -- including Ford -- signed up and some poised to release cars using it. As you'd expect, Google says it is doing something similar.

For BlackBerry, the good news is that CarPlay is essentially a front-end interface to connect iPhones to car entertainment systems, not the OS for those systems. QNX could become the back-end OS for more than just Ford while Apple's CarPlay and whatever Google comes up with ride on top as the front-end interfaces to iOS and Android devices, respectively.

It's not just cars, of course. Apple's pushing its iBeacons technology to be a lingua franca for device federation, and it's been successful in getting retailers to use iPod Touches as the new sales terminal. Subsets of Android are being used in all sorts of IoT devices under development. Oracle too is pushing Java hard for the same usage.

Again, there's a big party going on that BlackBerry seems to have missed. Yet it has QNX and thus should have a leg up in at least some segments of the Internet of things. Although IoT is way overhyped, it will be a big deal in the next few years. There may not be trillions of dollars to be made, as Cisco Systems Chairman John Chambers foolishly claims, but there are billions of dollars to be made. BlackBerry could and should get a nice slice of that pie.

This article, "5 changes BlackBerry must make to have a ghost of a chance," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.


Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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