RIM Targets Connected Cars with QNX Acquisition

Research In Motion Ltd. is setting its sights on the in-car wireless market, with the acquisition of QNX Software Systems from Harman International. The idea is to further integrate and enhance the user experience between smartphones and in-vehicle audio and infotainment systems, using QNX’s open-platform operating system.

QNX specializes in embedded design, working to tie its OS to everything from PCs to consumer electronics. It has made in-car applications a particular focus.

The connected car opportunity is one that everyone from AT&T to Alcatel-Lucent to Motorola is eyeing, particularly as the 4G era supercharges the amount of information wireless broadband can transmit. Use cases range from in-dash Internet and navigation to telematics to apps for emergency-care providers and the idea of allowing first responders to upload stats to the emergency room and triage desk, via wireless.

“The car is going to become the first-class citizen of the cloud, where inside the car you’re going to have access to all the connected media, all the social services that are out there, and it will truly revolutionize the driving experience, the experience of the automotive makers making those cars, the ecosystem of people that are going to make applications for those cars,” said Dan Dodge, QNX CEO, in a recent video made with Alcatel-Lucent. “It’s probably one of the most exciting times in automotive history.”

The deal will also have a portfolio implication when it comes to peripherals.

“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,” said RIM President and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, in a statement.

The deal, whose terms were not disclosed, is subject to regulatory approvals. It should close in 30 to 45 days.

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