A few years ago automakers realized that devising their own infotainment systems in-house was a fool's game. The systems quickly became outdated next to the fast-moving consumer electronics industry and were rarely as slick as the ones customers were used to on their smartphones and tablets.
Ford's SYNC is an example of a system developed not in-house, but alongside a major electronics giant: Microsoft. But now, reports Bloomberg, Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] has dropped Microsoft and will base its next-generation SYNC system on BlackBerry's QNX service. The move is great news for BlackBerry, which has struggled to remain competitive in the handheld consumer electronics market in recent years. It's also a shrewd move for Ford, which has faced poor consumer feedback for its existing SYNC system and seeks to restore its "mixed" quality results from the last few years.
As consumers seek an increasingly connected driving experience, high-tech in-car infotainment systems are becoming vital equipment in new cars. Ford got in there early with SYNC, but the system has been partly responsible for a slip in the marque's quality over the last few years. Ford and Lincoln scored poorly in Consumer Reports reliability and J.D. Power initial quality studies in recent years--previous incarnations of SYNC have struggled to pair with certain smartphones, the SYNC-based MyFord Touch has confused users with its poor interface, and some have complained of poor voice recognition systems.
Contrary to Blackberry's own issues in the mobile market, its QNX software is already highly regarded and used widely in the automotive industry--both Audi and BMW use QNX in some vehicles, according to the QNX website. With Ford on its side, QNX would become one of the largest infotainment system providers in the industry--along with Microsoft. Ford hasn't yet officially confirmed its deal with Blackberry, but Ford customers will be looking forward to improved infotainment systems in the future.