It would seem that BlackBerry are finally giving up on attempting
to boost smartphone sales and have announced Project Ion, which it’s thought
will deliver services and infrastructure for the Internet of Things (IoT).
The move was announced at the O’Reilly Solid conference which ends
today and which "discusses the current state of the hardware (and) software convergence” market,
including the IoT and what it means for the future. It’s thought that the
announcement is tied to BlackBerry’s 2010 acquisition of QNX Systems, the
software of which powers a range of devices from ICE systems to industrial
"QNX is literally everywhere," BlackBerry's Alec Saunders told the
audience at Solid. "It's in satellites, it's in trains, it's in cars, it's
in laser eye surgery systems, it's even in robotic vacuum cleaners."
"If you believe all of the predictions that there will
be 50 billion devices connected to the internet of things by 2020,"
Saunders went on to say, "we could be talking about trillions of machine
transactions and exabytes of data being created on a daily basis."
It’s not clear exactly how BlackBerry intends to use QNX,
but it’s thought that the project will be based on a "secure public
applications platform for the Internet of Things that operates at a global
scale,” said Saunders on the BlackBerry blog.
This will help customers to capture and collate their own
data which is produced by the IoT products. The company is also looking to
develop a new ecosystem of partners, wireless carriers and app developers as
well as get more involved in the IoT landscape.
This will be facilitated by joining industry groups such as
the Application Developer Alliance. BlackBerry plan to offer private previews
of the QNX Cloud Software platform to select customers but it’s not clear when
this is likely to happen, although the company said it will be "very shortly”.
Whilst BlackBerry has recently announced a new handset for
its BlackBerry 10 OS, the Z3, this is aimed very much at the Indonesian market
where the company has traditionally done well. However, it emerged
this week that the latest offering from the company has been met with "a
collective shrug” by Indonesians.
The Canadian company has struggled in recent years to regain
any foothold in a competitive market, which is dominated by Apple and Samsung.
Whilst BlackBerry has recently reached a deal in an agreement with Foxconn, it’s
widely thought that this is too little, too late for the struggling handset
division of the business.
Project Ion is intended to enable customers to "realise
their vision for the Internet of Things” and to foster innovation using QNX
cloud-based software, which, the
company says , is "designed to enable greater levels of simplicity,
scalability, and security in IoT solutions.”