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BlackBerry signs software deal with Ford to develop cars of the future

BlackBerry has signed a deal with Ford to provide its software for the car giant's connected vehicles as it looks to new areas for growth after ditching its handset business.

The agreement which was announced on Monday, will see the expanded use of BlackBerry's QNX software in Ford cars. QNX is already used in Ford's in-car infotainment systems. The two companies did not disclose the terms of the deal or where the new software will be used.

"The future of the automobile is all about embedded intelligence. I believe our expertise in secure embedded software makes us the preferred technology provider to put the smart in the car," John Chen, chief executive of BlackBerry, said in a press release.


John Chen, CEO, Blackberry
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
John Chen, CEO, Blackberry

BlackBerry will dedicate a team to work with Ford on expanding the use of BlackBerry's QNX Neutrino Operating System and Certicom security technology.

The Ontario, Canada-based firm was once a titan of the mobile industry but failed to keep up with the likes of Apple and Samsung. In recent years, it has tried to pivot away from hardware and focus on software, particularly in new areas like the automotive industry.

Ford also has mapped out its plans for the future of driving, recently announcing its intention to produce a fleet of driverless cars for ride-sharing services like Uber by 2021. The U.S. firm said it would triple its autonomous vehicle test fleet this year and expand its footprint in Silicon Valley.

The two companies did not say if the partnership involves work on driverless cars.

BlackBerry will be hoping its deal with Ford will put it at the center of the carmaker's plans and open the door for similar agreements with other manufacturers.

Traditional carmakers are racing to bring driverless cars on the road as they face competition from the likes of Tesla and Google. As such, a number of automakers have partnered with technology firms to develop future cars.