Nortel – End of an Era?

January 15, 2009

Today Nortel announced they are filing for bankruptcy protection. 180px-ne1951logo_nationalservice

Everyone in Ottawa has at least one Nortel story. I have three.

The first is about personal connections. Before she was married, my mom worked for Northern Electric. I work at QNX. The two founders of QNX, Dan Dodge and Gordon Bell, both worked at Bell Northern Research before they started QNX. In fact, when you think about it, BNR provided “seed” money indirectly to get QNX Software Systems off the ground. BNR and Northern Electric both became part of what is Nortel today.

The second is that I lost a lot of money in my retirement savings portfolio. Under poor advisement, I chose to invest in Nortel when they were trading high, well over $120 per share. Needless to say, I said goodbye to that money (and my financial advisor). And luckily I’m young enough to recover. There are an equal number of stories about people, much older than myself, who invested significantly and it had a dramatic negative impact on their retirement plans.

Thirdly, QNX had an interesting experience at Nortel about 8 or 9 years ago. We had been selected by at least 4 projects based on technical merit and had negotiated development and support agreements accordingly with teams here in Ottawa as well as Boston. But in an unexpected turn of events, the CTO’s office stepped in and declared that all new programs had to go with Linux and reversed all these design wins for us, even though the teams had invested significantly in QNX and had already started development and in a few cases, were months away from production. We tried many times over the years to get back in, but the only-Linux strategy blocked us every time. We know that a lot of the guys who initially picked QNX never changed their minds about us.

Those are my Nortel stories. Like many Canadians, I am in mourning about the demise of a Canadian icon. I always wanted to believe they could bounce back. Maybe they will?

Linda Campbell

Ecosystem Opportunities in Automotive – QNX at CVTA

December 17, 2008

cvtaheader311Recently, the Connected Vehicle Trade Association (CVTA) invited me to participate in a panel on emerging opportunities in the automotive ecosystem. Here’s the summary on the perspective I shared. I’ve included an elevator-pitch on QNX – so skip the first paragraph if you already know us.

We are a leading supplier of embedded software for in-car systems – including the operating system, middleware, and graphics – essentially everything you need to build open application platforms or closed purpose-built devices. Our customers are the tier ones building a variety of in-vehicle solutions deployed by car companies. These systems include telematics, infotainment, navigation, handsfree, connectivity modules and digital instrument clusters. (You typically find QNX products in the cab versus under the hood.) We’re production proven, shipping in over 7.4 million vehicles on a world wide basis.

Our perspective – everything is changing as the vision of the connected car becomes a reality. This will involve a massive transition and while having a pipe to the vehicle will solve a lot of problems, it will create a few as well. Connectivity to the cloud will involve a bit of complexity. And with complexity comes opportunity.

From our device-centric perspective, we see a new class of ecosystem developing – one that is all about the internet and enabling internet-based applications and services. But we don’t believe this will replace the existing embedded or onboard ecosystems. Rather, the new in-car solutions will be a hybrid of the embedded and internet experience – marrying onboard and offboard applications in a common platform. Connectivity enhances the in-car experience but does not ultimately change the nature of the system around safety, reliability, and persistence.

We think opportunities will exist for traditional embedded players, the internet ecosystem, and the companies that can deliver the internet experience in an embedded or auto-centric “package”.

Another area of opportunity lies in system partitioning. In-car systems are becoming increasingly complex and the variety of applications continues to increase. We see our customers struggling with decisions on what should run where. Do they put Bluetooth on the head unit, on a connectivity module in the dash, a gateway in the trunk or all three? What applications or portions of applications need to reside locally onboard versus remotely as offboard services?How do you integrate several systems and retain separate development silos?

The companies that find the right balance and manage the complexity of delivering applications and services safely without compromising user experience will win – whether they deploy a single box hosting all applications or a network of devices with applications partitioned across the various nodes in that vehicle network.

Finally, in the short term, we see an increased demand for services – our customers and their customers face increasing complexity, reduced resourcing, shorter times to market, and the need to adapt to and adopt new technologies (within an automotive life cycle). Companies that can help the tier ones and OEMs do this will ultimately be successful, so a services play is definitely in order.

Coincidentally, we think that QNX and our ecosystem partners in both the embedded and internet spaces are in a position to take advantage of the opportunities presented!

Written and presented by Linda Campbell (with input from Andrew Poliak & Andy Gryc)

Innovation Award – QNX Fastboot on Intel® Atom™

December 2, 2008

I recently attended the Intel Embedded Communications Alliance (ECA) Executive Summit where QNX was honored with the “Award of Excellence, Most Innovative Software for the Intel® Atom™ Processor”.  This was an acknowledgement of our ultra fastboot solution that eliminates the need for a BIOS which improves boot times and reduces system costs for x86-based embedded systems. This technology results in new instant-on performance for designs in the industrial, mobile, medical, and consumer markets. To learn more about the award, you can read our press release at


In keeping with the innovation theme, QNX is holding a first-of-its-kind training event called Fastboot Camp where we’ll be educating hardware vendors on the technique for implementing fastboot on their Intel Atom COTS and custom boards and systems. The class starts on Monday December, 8th, here in our Ottawa headquarters. Some of the participants include Advantech, Lippert Embedded Computers and Concurrent Technologies PLC. If you’re interested in finding out more about the course, you can read it about it on our website, Contact us if you’re interested in attending this class or a similar one in the future.

Customers interested in evaluating fastboot solutions today may request the nanoETXexpress evaluation module from Kontron.

By Kroy Zeviar

Inaugurating the QNX Alliances Blog

November 20, 2008

champagneThis is a blog about the QNX ecosystem and our third party partners. These are the companies that provide complimentary hardware, software and services to our OS, tools, and middleware portfolio. The hope is to have a less formal means to introduce new partners, new products and new partner related programs to the QNX community. It’s all about making sure our customers and prospects have the latest insight into partner related activities.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we’ll abandon traditional means of marketing communications like press releases, notices in The Source, or our online partner directory. The blog will be augmenting, not replacing these conventional forms of communication. And maybe, in the process, we can start a dialogue about the technology trends our customers are tracking so that we can input our own thoughts, and execute on supporting partnering strategies.

I”m keeping this first entry short because now I have to figure out how to post it 🙂