BlackBerry expands Ford deal to secure smart cars

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BlackBerry has struck a deal with US automotive manufacturer Ford for expanded use of QNX operating system and security software.

BlackBerry described the deal as an early marker in its pivot away from hardware, and its reorganisation as a software business.

The Canadian firm announced in September it had kicked its device business into the long grass, having gone from a pioneer in the smartphone space a decade ago, to a leading consumer brand just five years ago, to an also-ran in the iPhone era.

The deal with Ford will support the US car giant’s goal of providing connected vehicles and mobility to its customers. BlackBerry said it will dedicate a team to work with the car maker to expand use of its QNX Neutrino operating system, Certicom security technology, QNX hypervisor and QNX audio processing software.

John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO at BlackBerry, said: “The future of the automobile is all about embedded intelligence. Our expertise in secure embedded software makes us the preferred technology provider to put the smart in the car.

“Ford’s expanded application of our software and services illustrates the diverse and broad value we can bring to market.”

More than 60 million vehicles feature BlackBerry’s QNX software, the company said. The SYNC 3 Infotainment system in Ford’s current models runs on its QNX platform.

Raj Nair, Executive Vice President of Product Development and Chief Technical Officer at Ford, said: “Growing our expertise, experience and use of the BlackBerry QNX embedded software platforms will help ensure we deliver the high-quality, highly secure experience that our customers expect.”

Meanwhile, BlackBerry has announced the DTEK60 smartphone, the second in its DTEK series of secure Android devices, targeted at enterprise customers.

Like its forebear, the DTEK50, the new DTEK60 is manufactured by Chinese electronics firm TCL, and features BlackBerry’s security software.

It is available for sale in North America and Europe and will roll out to other regions in coming weeks.

The new handset features BlackBerry’s security ‘patching’ and BlackBerry app, which allows users to monitor and control their privacy on their phone. It also has a fingerprint sensor, and a number of other security features, along with a high-end camera, screen and battery.