- BlackBerry has earned a new "no middleman" designation in its sales relationship with Ford, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
- The Canadian company, which has transitioned into software development in the wake of sharp handset competition with Apple and Samsung, also offers products that support self-driving cars. Though Ford is not at the forefront of development, it intends to enter the self-driving market within the next ten years.
- Competition to equip self-driving cars is steep, and BlackBerry faces countless challengers working from both traditional auto-suppliers and the technology industry.
Ford's designation of BlackBerry as a Tier 1 supplier reveals the rising demand for software solutions as the automobile's focus turns from driving-technology to user-experience.
In a decade, cars have seen the increased integration of user-experience technology (from CD players and Bluetooth capabilities to surround-view cameras) within the dashboard, making supply of software and IoT systems essential to auto-makers.
Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that technology companies like Uber are among those leading the charge to disrupt the automobile industry. A big draw of the self-driving car is the productivity benefits gained from freeing up commute time, which will increase demand for "connected car" capabilities.
The industry is not there yet, but any company's decision to upgrade a supplier relationship shows a desire for greater partnership and oversight. The announcement is a big win for BlackBerry, too, as the company strengthens its brand as a IoT/software/security provider rather than phone-maker.