QNX, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of BlackBerry, announced some news today that reminds us that parceling the company out could be among BlackBerry’s best options as it considers a sale and other alternatives. QNX Software Systems will partner with Panasonic Automotive Systems to create infotainment for North American, European and Japanese automakers, expanding its already considerable reach in the infotainment market.
QNX will be contracted by Japan to produce the infotainment software, and will also partner with the company to help build a platform that will generally improve next-gen car audio and information systems, including new architecture, mobile connectivity features and greater flexibility, according to the company.
Already, QNX powers something like 60 percent of the infotainment systems used by automakers worldwide, and this should help them continue to be a primary effective influence in that market for at least a few years into the future. QNX got a lot of attention as the operating system that would eventually become Playbook OS, and later BB10.
But while those were the big hopes the company touted as the means to its eventual salvation, it’s QNX on its own and as a means for carmakers to provide their customers with ever better and more flexible in-car systems that could end up providing the greatest value to the now flailing company.
QNX has real material value to buyers and potential partners (as evidenced clearly by this partnership, in fact). It already has content partnerships with 7Digital, Pandora, TeleNav, Texas Instruments, Microsoft and Apple, and provides car makers basically everything they need to accept a variety of inputs from a range of mobile devices, as well as to provide standalone features and media. Panasonic and others in the space might look to bring all that expertise and those relationships in-house with an opportunistic acquisition, now that BlackBerry is considering all its options.
If we’re talking about BlackBerry looking to parse out its shrinking empire, QNX might be a rare growth component, a gem in the rough for acquirers to eyeball or for private equity firms to build value propositions on top of when explaining their investment. Infotainment isn’t as sexy as smartphones, but it may end up being more valuable to both BlackBerry and its potential saviors in the end.
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