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Volkswagen Group takes over BlackBerry's European R&D center

Mon, 07 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0700

The Volkswagen Group has taken over BlackBerry's European research and development center in Bochum, Germany. The center employs around 200 people who will transfer to the newly founded VW Group subsidiary, Volkswagen Infotainment GmbH.

BlackBerry is in the midst of a global restructure, as it bids to move away from making smartphones and switch its business to software development. One of its key assets is QNX, a company it acquired in 2010 that, amongst other things, provides software that can control all in-car functions, and integrate a user's smartphone.

While BlackBerry has seen sales of its phones collapse, QNX's Car Platform is quickly becoming the dominant in-car software. Over 40 automakers use it, including Hyundai-Kia, Ford, GM and most of the premium German firms. This is likely to expand, as Apple's CarPlay system was developed using QNX, while Google Auto is likely to do the same.

The deal means VW gets an instant boost in the increasingly important field of in-car infotainment, plus some invaluable R&D insights into car-to-X and car-to-car communication, and a staff familiar with QNX development.

Although details haven't been revealed, it's also likely that VW will gain some influence of developments of the QNX system, which looks increasingly likely to become the standard on-board software automakers use in the future.

BlackBerry, meanwhile, gets to offload an expensive R&D center, freeing up cash to invest in making QNX the go-to option for automakers and a key driver of profit and new business as it reinvents itself.

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By Tom Phillips