Bloomberg reported last week that parts of Apple’s “secret” Project Titan, as the press has taken to calling the Apple Car, is being done in BlackBerry’s backyard in the suburb of Kanata just outside of the Canadian capital of Ottawa. The report suggested that Apple had “poached” some engineers for an Apple Car software system from BlackBerry subsidiary QNX.
Bloomberg report on Apple Car poaching from QNX
Project Titan, or the Apple Car if you will, has never been spoken of by Tim Cook or anyone else at Apple. This is hardly a great surprise given Apple’s penchant for staying tight-lipped about nearly everything and has never responded to rumors on speculation on its projects or products. Despite Apple’s unwillingness to even acknowledge the work, it’s doing on an Apple Car; every knows they are hard at work and have hired hundreds of engineers from the automotive industry including Tesla prompting Elon Musk to call it, “the worst kept secret in the Silicon Valley.”
Last week saw Bloomberg talk about the project a bit citing unnamed sources saying that dozens of software engineers were working outside of Ottawa Titan. Apple’s love of security and secrecy sees the company working on future projects near or on its Cupertino, California headquarters to keep secrecy high, so that was the first surprise in the report.
The report then claimed that many those working for Apple were hired in the last year having worked prior for the automotive software company QNX which is owned by BlackBerry.
Apple, of course, declined to speak on the subject but according to Bloomberg, a former QNX executive said that the Apple office was a mere five minutes by foot from the QNX offices.
According to the report, Apple poached the former CEO of QNX, Dan Dodge to put him to work on the software side of the Apple Car. Additionally, it’s believed that Derrick Keefe is working on the Apple Car after having worked for QNX for over ten years.
Whether the team in the Ottawa suburb is working on a self-driving platform or simply an operating system that could be used by numerous car manufacturers as an “iOS for cars” is anyone’s guess.
QNX is known for its building of “infotainment” systems and includes clients like Ford Motors. The losses of such experience staff can’t help QNX or BlackBerry as the latter moves away from the smartphone market and looks to revenue from its enterprise endeavors as well as QNX.
“We’re in a global world of big technology companies fighting for talent,” Marty Beard, BlackBerry’s chief operating officer, said about the Apple poaching. “It’s not surprising,” he told Bloomberg.
BlackBerry “fact checks” the report adding clarification
Before speaking to the news about the “poaching” of QNX employees, BlackBerry took the time to point out that QNX remains a viable company that is doing hard work and continuing to innovate despite the loss of staff. BlackBerry, in a recent post, also quickly pointed out that EO Dan Dodge was not “poached” but rather he quietly retired and, as it happened, was hired by Apple.
Hardly a traditional retirement where one thinks of someone not working and possibly moving to Florida, not the tundra that is Ottawa for the winter. But the post did point out that 24 QNX employees have left the company and moved to Apple including a number without automotive experience and just three QNX kernel engineers have switched companies.
Earlier reports from Bloomberg recently about Project Titan have suggested that Apple is scaling back Project Titan and may not be looking to build a car as much as a software option and Bloomberg added that Apple has laid off hundreds working on the so-called Apple Car.