Ford Motor Co. is hiring 400 hardware and software engineers from BlackBerry’s mobile communications group, according to media reports. The move will more than double the size of Ford's current mobile connectivity engineering team.
Ford plans to use the new workers to help it expand its research and development efforts in Canada and create a new center focused on connectivity in vehicles. The move does not create 400 new jobs, but rather moves work from BlackBerry to Ford, according to the Ottowa Sun.
Ford is working to boost its software development efforts around internet-connected vehicles. About 100 of the engineers from BlackBerry are from the company's office in Florida and the rest are Canada-based, The Wall Street Journal reports. Ford is investing $375 million in Ottowa, Ontario for the development center.
The move may be a good strategy for allowing BlackBerry to avoid layoffs. BlackBerry CEO John Chen has worked to pivot the company’s focus toward development, apps and mobile security ever since the company’s iconic mobile phone fell from grace and was officially retired last year.
As BlackBerry transitions from a hardware to software focus, its engineers may be more at home elsewhere. BlackBerry already works closely with Ford on QNX, the operating system for Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment and connectivity platform. Given the tight tech talent market, it was boon for Ford to access the large group of tech workers.
Ford has been putting big money into technology, including advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles and expanding services enabled by wireless internet in cars. Ford’s work with another tech company, Pivotal, is another example of how car companies are making large investments to become mobility providers.