While I was surprised by the rumor (that will probably turn out to be news), if you think about it, it makes sense.
Since Apple does not license its operating system, one question I had the past several days is that what kind of software is Apple using, that will permit other Automotive companies to license its automotive OS? Because one thing was clear, it was not Apple's iOS itself.
Another question I had over these past several days was, when did Apple have a chance to develop a totally new operating system, specifically made for the automotive industry, having a chance to showcase it, and at the same time, announce so many automotive manufacturers signing on?
Well the answer is probably that Apple did not develop anything, but is using the QNX API, running its own software on top of it. Actually, this is probably something that any other automotive company would have had to do, if it wanted to license QNX anyway. The difference of course is that people would prefer a car that has a native iPhone hookup, especially if it was made by Apple itself.
N4bb.com (the original source of Barron's report), has verified this, when they asked QNX's Paul Leroux to comment about this theory:
Connectivity to smartphones and other mobile devices is a key strength of QNX Software Systems' platform for car infotainment systems, and many automakers and tier one automotive suppliers use our platform to implement smartphone/head-unit integration in their vehicles. We have a long-standing partnership with Apple to ensure high-quality connectivity with their devices, and this partnership extends to support for Apple CarPlay.
So it is probably official, BlackBerry's QNX will be powering CarPlay, and in return that means that BlackBerry will power all cars with CarPlay.
Losers and winners
It is probably safe to conclude that since Apple has about 50% of the U.S. smartphone market, very few can manufactures would want to make a car that will not include Apple's CarPlay. So even if Apple has not signed a deal with every single car manufacturer yet, they will so soon. Apple wins by default.
Recently, we have been reading reports that Ford (NYSE:F) was dumping Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Embedded Automotive 7 OS for QNX. With this deal, I think the nails are in Windows Embedded Automotive 7's coffin. I assume General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Chrysler also want to have CarPlay installed, if they would want to sell cars from now on. They probably don't have a choice. Microsoft loses.
But the biggest winner is probably BlackBerry. Analysts estimate that QNX has anywhere from 50% - 70% of the automotive market. With this deal, QNX will be a monopoly in the space.
While I cannot put a dollar figure on what this means for BlackBerry, the mere fact that suddenly BlackBerry is the center of attention, is another testimony to the fact that this company is not going out of business and has a bright future.
In addition, I assume that a special interface will also be developed exclusively for BlackBerry devices in due time, that it will probably be even better than CarPlay. Yes that will probably be a reason to own a BlackBerry in the future. Just one look at what QNX's YouTube channel will probably convince you.
As for Microsoft, well, better luck next time, you can't win them all ...