Ford Reportedly Switching from Microsoft Windows to BlackBerry QNX for Next SYNC System
Ford SYNC, long a showcase for Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Automative platform, may soon switch to BlackBerry’s QNX operating system as the foundation of its in-car infotainment features. The switch from Windows to QXN will allow the automaker to cut costs, as well as increase the flexibility and speed of future SYNC versions, according to sources speaking with Bloomberg this weekend.
SYNC is a Ford-exclusive factory-installed voice command system that lets users make hands-free calls, control in-car music and entertainment settings, and manage navigation features. It was introduced in 2007 as a joint partnership between Ford and Microsoft, and is currently based the Windows operating system.
While advanced for its time, SYNC has in recent years faced stiff challenges from the improved in-car infotainment systems of competing manufacturers. Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who until recently was rumored to be a candidate for the top job at Microsoft, has seen his company’s ratings decline in recent years, with many consumers pointing to issues with in-car technology and touchscreens. By adopting Blackberry’s UNIX-like QNX, sources claim, Ford will be able to not only reduce costs, but also increase the performance of the SYNC system for end users.
QNX already powers the in-car systems of other leading manufacturers, including Volkswagen, Audi, and BMW, making the reported transition easier for Ford and seamless for customers. BlackBerry acquired QNX Software Systems, the operating system’s parent company, for $200 million in 2010.
Ford’s switch in underlying platforms isn’t the only major shift in the automotive entertainment industry. Both Apple and Google are currently developing their own in-car platforms based on iOS and Android, respectively, with full rollouts expected late this year from a variety of manufacturers.