No, do not adjust your screen, that is what Apple is envisioning for their next "leap" in innovation for 2014. Cupertino has been making the news today with their announcement of their new iOS7 mobile operating system. Like it or not, users have gotten what they have been asking for. Probably since the iPhone 4 debuted exactly a 3 years and 3 days ago; a new paint job. But that is not all. They have gratuitously borrowed here and there from the competition in an effort to remain relevant, and although I am not one to be easily suckered in by the eye candy (or unicorn throw up,) I have a feeling that the average consumer is going to just eat it all up.
I'm not going to get into the details of where iOS incorporates BlackBerry-like functionality, for that check out Joe's article here. What has got me thinking, and what should have the folks heading the QNX infotainment division of BlackBerry continuing to go full force and showcasing the power of the BlackBerry 10 powered infotainment system is Apple's not so obvious warning shot. Tucked away in a page describing Apple's iOS7's new features is a "coming in 2014" section with a few screen caps of what iOS7 might look like in a car.
Not to say the QNX Bently Continental concept car is anything less than breath-taking, or that the the QNX-based Chevy MyLink system which received the Best of CES 2013 Award, in the car tech category, for its intuitive user experience, smartphone connectivity, and instrument-cluster integration, and which even more recently, took first place in the "Automotive, LBS, Navigation & Safe Driving" category of the 2013 CTIA Emerging Technology (E-Tech) Awards are lacking, or even that the 11 million cars shipped with QNX technology just in 2012 are insignificant, but QNX and BlackBerry need to figure out how they are going to stay ahead of the game.
QNX already has decades of experience in the auto industry and has been known for creating custom infotainment systems for different car manufacturers. Although on the OS styling might differ slightly from one car to the next, the underlying power comes from the microkernel architecture of QNX.
In fact, QNX recently presented its 2.1 update to its infotainment system at the Telematics Detroit conference. It is already built with open standards in mind, supporting HTML5, OpenGL ES, Android apps, and even QT5 apps. It is also able to interface with the car's internal components and pull relevant information including fluid levels, oil life health, all with its mechanic app.
But here is where it gets scary. Seven years ago, BlackBerry was top of the heap in the smartphone scene when they were blindsided by a secret project Apple had been working on for over two years. There were no warning sirens, no bells no tech equivalent of Paul Revere to warn then Research In Motion of all the pain that was yet to come. Out of nowhere the iPhone quickly rose to prominence despite its many shortcomings. Android also then planning to put a coup on BlackBerry abandoned its keyboard bearing project in favor of a touch screen version just a year later. BlackBerry is in a completely different position today on that front as there seems to be an ever increasing market for staying connected while staying mobile, especially while in transit. BlackBerry made it very clear at this years Live conference that mobile is at the core of what BlackBerry does. To echo the motto, "BlackBerry Knows Mobile." Granted, this is a completely different market, with completely different players, but the difference this time is that the alarm has been sounded. Apple has openly announced it is attempting to enter in yet a new industry where it lacks experience but has the potential to take the industry in a completely different direction.
The question is does iOS have what it takes to enter the infotainment industry? Will QNX be able to counter Apple's attack before it is fully launched? Playing devils advocate, where Apple lacks in experience, it makes up in sheer volume of users, boasting one of the biggest app ecosystems. (But, I'd also wager that over 90% of said apps would be useless loaded inside a moving vehicle.) Added to that is a huge user base that thunders at over 300 million devices, no doubt iOS will make a noticeable dent in the car industry.
We're definitely going to be taking a close eye on how this develops, but what do you think? Does BlackBerry have anything to worry about? If so, what can they do to prepare to take on a new competitor in their field? Let us know in the comments below!