QNX is one of the ‘4 pillars’ of BlackBerry’s comeback according to John Chen (Enterprise Management, QNX, BBM, and handsets). Recently there has been a fair amount of news concerning car infotainment systems, which manufacturer has selected which system, and how Google, Apple, and BlackBerry are positioning themselves for the future. The following dialog recently occured in a UTB chatroom-
Imagine all of us are different car makers. Let’s pick a name, say I’m Subaru, let’s say Brad is GM, Emily is Mercedes Benz, and Stephen is Ferrari. Each of our companies has their own unique way to determine how their electronic control unit (ECU) reads and responds to driving situations, like the anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), traction control, automatic wipers, etc… how they behave and how they interact.
Let’s use an example where Stephen used to be the CEO of Mazda, and now he’s with Ferrari (since you are now CEOs). What ABS and what traction control systems will he use? Those are physical parts and there are many vendors to choose from. Stephen would have a headache because he knew what Mazda did, but he would need to adapt at Ferrari unless they happened to source all the parts from the same vendors (which would be highly unlikely). That could potentially result in a lot of overhead just to make sure the parts you get play well with each other. At Ferrari we don’t want 3rd party vendors making cheap parts for our million dollar cars! Stephen, as CEO of Ferrari does things in-house, but there will be customers who think they know more than Stephen, and instead of using his own in-house designed brakes, the customer wants Brembo or Nisshin. so how will this customization work – seamlessly or in a disaster?
What QNX did was to create a type of ‘plug and play’. Don’t forget, QNX (a subsidiary of BlackBerry) has been working on this operating system (OS) for many years. It’s the only ISO 26262 certified OS a standard whose creation BlackBerry pushed whose specifications they were heavily involved in defining). based on this interchanging parts should be easy.
Now let’s consider the car infotainment system. For example, the Nissan GTR BNR 35 – aka “New Godzilla”. The infotainment system can control a lot of things, suspensions, gear ratio, etc, if one customer walks up and says, “I don’t want this piece of crap touch screen, I want Apple iPod and iPhone in my new GTR or Androids’ Google Play, and I want it to do the same thing” you may just write it off. What would happen if enough customers wanted it and your Board of Directors tells you- “You’re the CEO. make it happen!” You could potentially spend millions of dollars and countless human hours, but by using BlackBerry’s new system you can develop this ‘electronic spine’ that will plug and play with every exotic /non exotic part, and your car’s safety remains uncompromised because the fundamental parts are already certified.
So what BlackBerry/QNX did was offer car makers a much lower cost by developing QNX as a kernel that is not locked down to one platform or manufacturer, allowing full integration across all lines of vehicles and model years. As long as new brakes and controllers are ‘plug and play’ compliant they will communicate with BlackBerry/QNX’s new system.
And that my friends basically kills Google’s and Apple’s, “I want to control your car” dreams as they are essentially locked down to one model.
(post is attributed to Badi’ Yee)