RIM plans expansion into car gadgets market

Research In Motion, the Canadian manufacturer of the BlackBerry family of smartphones, is positioning itself for a push into the in-vehicle communications and entertainment market through the acquisition of QNX Software Systems.

Ottawa-based QNX, which was founded in 1980 and acquired in 2004 by Harmon International, the consumer electronics group, developed the Neutrino operating system which is widely used in the automotive, industrial, telecommunications, medical, defence, and aerospace markets.

Neutrino competes directly with Microsoft Auto, Microsoft’s embedded operating system for the automotive sector.

While the purchase price was not disclosed, Mike Lazaridis, RIM’s co-chief executive said, “RIM is excited about the planned acquisition of QNX and we look forward to ongoing collaboration between Harman, QNX and RIM to further integrate and enhance the user experience between smartphones and in-vehicle audio and infotainment systems.”

The automotive sector is expected to be a strong growth market for smartphone manufacturers as in-car systems become more intelligent and are linked directly to communications devices.

Mr Lazaridis also indicated that QNX’s software could be used in other ‘intelligent peripherals’ that RIM has yet to announce.

RIM, which faces increasing competition in developed smartphone markets like the US from rivals including Apple’s iPhone and Google Android-powered handsets, has been expanding its portfolio of peripheral devices, most recently with the launch of the BlackBerry Presenter, a wireless portable device that enables users to deliver presentations from a BlackBerry handset.

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