BlackBerry's QNX: Can it win the auto IoT war?

BlackBerry's QNX unit highlighted what it can do in a Maserati concept vehicle. Can QNX become the dominant middleware platform for the auto industry?

BlackBerry's QNX unit has a big footprint in key verticals such as automotive and health care, but for the company to transform itself into a software player it will have to connect the Internet of things dots.

The QNX team, part of the BlackBerry Technology Solutions division, was in New York on Tuesday showing off a Maserati concept vehicle that incorporated BlackBerry's technology. The blue car featured a massive information screen, rear view and side mirrors that were actually displays, cameras and sensors for blind spots.

Previously: BlackBerry still has to prove software progress despite Q1 promise | BlackBerry's QNX: Why it's so valuable to Apple, Google, auto industry

QNX typically doesn't design the user interface. QNX basically serves as the base operating system and middleware and allows automakers to control the user experience, which can incorporate Google's auto efforts or Apple's CarPlay.

Derek Kuhn, vice president of sales at BlackBerry Technology Solutions, said QNX is looking to expand its sizable auto middleware footprint via the company's IoT platform, which includes over the air (OTA) update features. With OTA, QNX can manage firmware updates for automakers on multiple operating systems. "We can update anything with QNX since we're OS agnostic," said Kuhn, who noted autos have anywhere from 8 to 64 bit applications and multiple processors.

Microsoft is BlackBerry's largest rival in the car market, but QNX will be the technology behind Ford's latest rev of its Sync system.

The real win for BlackBerry will come when it connects the Internet of things, infotainment, navigation and other tools into one secure bundle. What happens when QNX connects to data from tires and other road conditions? Here's a look at BlackBerry's Maserati concept vehicle with some thoughts on where QNX can go from here.

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