HTC, Samsung, ASUS, and countless other tech companies wowed MWC with cutting-edge products designed to compete at the highest levels in the smartphone and tablet races. BlackBerry brought a car with BlackBerry stuff installed. Which is cool, I guess.
The teched-out Porsche 911 does look pretty cool, but I’m still on the fence over how much of that has to do with BlackBerry and how much of that has to do with the fact that it’s a Porsche 911. The car can communicate via one touch with NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphones, which sends data to the head unit, which is a PlayBook. The head unit acts as a media control center for the car, where media from any device in the car or in the cloud can be streamed to any screen detected in the car. The car is also capable of telephony on its own, rather than relying on a mobile phone plus a Bluetooth headset. If you’re talking to more than one person, you can manipulate the stereo output to make it sound like one person is to the left of you, and one person is to the right.
The instrument cluster, usually containing the odometer and gas gauge, among other measurements, can be customized. Media information can be placed within that cluster, although I feel like that area of the car is maybe better suited for the odometer and the gas gauge. It just feels like important information, and only important information should go there. Maybe I’m just no fun. Navigation information can be thrown onto that cluster, though, which would be very practical.
Speaking of navigation, this Porsche 911 can understand voice commands and plot navigation routes accordingly, which was demonstrated by finding the nearest Starbucks. Since the head unit is a PlayBook, downloading apps from BlackBerry App World to the car is also possible.
All sarcasm aside, the car is really cool, and brings some real innovation to the table, including that native telephony bit. But, considering that this was maybe the biggest news to come out of BlackBerry’s camp during MWC, it has to be seen as a little disappointing. It’s no secret that BlackBerry is struggling to keep pace with the market, and a round of major announcements by chief competitors while barely a peep comes from BlackBerry doesn’t bode well for the future. A solid BlackBerry 10 showing could change that, but given how fast this market is moving, BlackBerry needs to give people something to really get excited about soon.