Blackberry was at one point in the last two decades was one of the top competitors in the smart phone market. The Canadian company had their very own unique analog keyboard personal digital assistant that doubled as a phone, all of your bosses had one, it was a status symbol of the business class. They had a large loyal customer base which knew when the next model was going to be released, all the stores carried at least 10 different models. They were a powerhouse.
Fast forward to the present day, the large loyal customer base has dwindled to a fraction of its height during the glory days and some stores don't even carry blackberry phones anymore. Mostly due to the fact that they lost in the competition in apps. While the other players had millions of apps, Blackberry had a very limited selection of apps which eventually lost their customer base. However, as the company started to lose the smart phone market, they had cleverly continued to reinvent themselves and focus on being profitable. As Blackberry phones lost their popularity, the company was still in black - mostly due to their refocus into hardware sales which kept the company extremely profitable.
But just because Blackberry is done making smartphones, it didn't mean they would stay out of the consumer tech market. The company just revealed the BlackBerry QNX Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Center. A facility in QNX's Ottawa head office dedicated to autonomous driving research and to develop production-ready software for autonomous vehicles. The $100 million investment announcement had Prime Minister Trudeau on hand as well as Blackberry chief executive John Chen. Most of the investment will go into the new employees. Chen had said the company planned to hire as many as 650 engineers over the next several years with an annual salary of about $150,000. QNX, acquired by Blackberry from Harmon International in 2010, currently employs 400 engineers. Blackberry itself currently employs about 5000 employees.
Blackberry may be able to renew their relevance in the technology sector riding the huge interest wave of autonomous driving, but they will be facing a lot of competition, including companies like Delphi, Qualcomm, Intel and Nvidia. BlackBerry QNX is one of the three companies granted permission to test autonomous driving on public roads in November. The other two being University of Waterloo's Center for Automotive research and Erwin Hymer Group.