BlackBerry continues to reinvent itself and strive to survive as it evolves from a smartphone business into... something else. Jarvis is their latest play. It's a security product that focuses on protecting cars from cyber-threats. The company says it can also be used in other places such as healthcare, industrial automation, aerospace, and defence.
Jarvis is a cloud-based static binary code scanning solution that identifies software vulnerabilities in cars. It's already being tested in vehicles made by Jaguar Land Rover.
The software, which is billed to customers on a pay-as-you-use basis, scans software during each stage of its development as well as software that is already deployed. It will ensure software is developed according to industry standards such as MISRA (Motor Industry Software Reliability Association) with the ability for users to create custom scanning rules as well.
The short-term play here is interesting but with BlackBerry being crippled by a lawsuit over patents missing the touchscreen smartphone revolution, they need to find a new way to survive.
One of the things BlackBerry never understood about itself was that its software was far more important than the hardware. Hardware is always copied and commoditised but the ability to create software that solves problems or makes the complex simple was always BlackBerry's advantage.
This move looks like an acknowledgment that they see their future in creating the software they underpins other systems. With autonomous cars fast becoming a reality, securing the software supply chain is becoming more important. By creating a tool that supports more rigourous assurance that the software is safe and performs as expected, BlackBerry is placing itself to be a significant player in that market.
It might be less visible than the BlackBerry handsets that were ubiquitous in the business world in the late 1990s and early 2000s but it has the potential to be far more lucrative.