Well, I have to admit I didn’t see this one coming. Not too long ago, QNX Software Systems was acquired by Harman International (Harman/Kardon and JBL), and now, six years later, the embedded software specialist has been bought by BlackBerry maker Research In Motion. Interesting acquisition.
I have a personal interest in QNX from back in the day when I used to run it as my main operating system (that was a long time ago, though). In fact, we can even dig up this old-school article that I wrote back when I wasn’t even on the OSNews team. Yes, such a time existed (it feels like a lifetime ago).
Anyway, what’s RIM going to do with one of the leading embedded software specialists, a Canadian company with a pedigree dating back to 1980? Well, aren’t we lucky – RIM’s president and co-CEO is quoted in the press release, and he pretty much sums it all up.
“RIM is excited about the planned acquisition of QNX Software Systems and we look forward to ongoing collaboration between Harman, QNX and RIM to further integrate and enhance the user experience between smartphones and in-vehicle audio and infotainment systems,” said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at RIM, “In addition to our interests in expanding the opportunities for QNX in the automotive sector and other markets, we believe the planned acquisition of QNX will also bring other value to RIM in terms of supporting certain unannounced product plans for intelligent peripherals, adding valuable intellectual property to RIM’s portfolio and providing long-term synergies for the companies based on the significant and complementary OS expertise that exists within the RIM and QNX teams today.”
QNX is doing very well in the automotive world. Currently, QNX is licensed for in-car infotainment systems in over 17 million vehicles, which is a 130% increase over 2008. More than 200 car models from Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Infiniti, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Jeep, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen ship with QNX software powering the in-car systems.
“Like Harman, RIM shares our passion for innovation and reliability, so we are absolutely thrilled with this opportunity,” said Dan Dodge, CEO, QNX Software Systems, “Moreover, RIM will give us the best of all possible mandates: to continue on our innovation path and to increase investment in our core products, professional services, and go-to-market channels. This is a great time to be a QNX customer, as we focus on collaborating with RIM to create an even more exciting platform for the next generation of connected and embedded devices.”
Interesting and all, but let’s not forget that little intellectual property part RIM’s Lazaridis said. As we are all aware of, the mobile phone business is embroiled in a whole boatload of lawsuits, and while RIM has managed to stay out of the high-profile ones so far, that won’t be the case forever. Buying a software company with 30 years of intellectual property behind it – IP that covers operating systems, development tools, and probably a lot of other stuff – seems like a very smart move to me. If Apple or Nokia ever get trigger-happy towards RIM, I’m sure QNX can pull a sizeable number of patents out of its hat Nokia and/or Apple (potentially) infringe upon.