Blackberry continues quest to prove its still a thing

It used to be a shining gem in the mobile landscape, but the fall from lofty heights was well publicised. A new partnership with Baidu is the next step from Blackberry to prove it is still relevant.

The partnership itself will focus on the development of autonomous vehicles, more specifically, Blackberry’s QNX operating system, which will form the foundations of Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving open platform. The tie-up will also incorporate Baidu’s CarLife offering (smartphone integration software for connected cars) as well as its virtual assistant DuerOS onto the platform.

“Blackberry QNX has established itself as the OS platform for safety-certified production-based systems,” said Li Zhenyu, GM of the Intelligent Driving Group at Baidu. “We aim to provide automakers with a clear and fast path to autonomous vehicle production, with safety and security as top priorities. By integrating the Blackberry QNX OS with the Apollo platform, we will enable carmakers to leap from prototype to production systems.”

“Baidu has made tremendous strides in Artificial Intelligence and deep learning,” said John Wall, GM of Blackberry’s QNX unit. “These advancements paired with their high-definition maps and Blackberry’s safety-critical embedded software and expertise in security will be crucial ingredients for autonomous vehicles.”

Irrelevant as to whether you believe Blackberry still has a place in the digital world of the 21st century, Wall raises an interesting point which is often overlooked. Companies like Baidu, or Google and Uber, will be critical due the importance of mapping data, irrelevant as to whether their autonomous driving platforms are any good.

When we talk about autonomous vehicles we discuss the sensors, the AI components or the processors to power the vehicle, but very rarely about the digital mapping technologies which underpin the whole concept. This is not unusual, as it isn’t the most exciting aspect of the tech, but often the boring areas are some of the most lucrative. Baidu’s horde of geographical information is potentially an excellent hook onto developments.

Blackberry might, or might not, be struggling to hold onto relevance in the fast moving tech world, but holding onto the coat tails of fast-rising Baidu isn’t the worst idea we’ve heard so far this year.

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