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Apple Reportedly Hires Blackberry Software Guru for Car Project

QNX's prototype for the future of drivingQNX's prototype for the future of driving
QNX's prototype for the future of drivingCourtesy of Crank Software Inc.

As Apple continues work on its secret car project, the company has hired Dan Dodge, one of the top real-time software programmers, according to a new report.

Dodge, who invented the QNX real-time operating system and later headed the car software unit of Blackberry, will work on software for Apple’s Project Titan, Bloomberg reported on Thursday citing unnamed sources.

Apple is looking for its next big thing after sales of the iPhone and other personal computing devices have gone into decline. The secret car project is staffed by many veterans of the automotive industry and reportedly overseen by longtime Apple hardware executive Bob Mansfield.

Apple has not said much about the effort, but CEO Tim Cook has dropped a series of vague hints. Asked about the car at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting in February, Cook replied: “Do you remember when you were a kid and Christmas Eve was so exciting? You weren’t sure what was going on downstairs? Well, it’s going to be Christmas Eve for a while.”

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And on this week’s Apple (AAPL) quarterly earnings call, Cook said a large increase in research and development spending, almost $2 billion over the past nine months, was mostly due to new projects. “There’s quite a bit of investment in there for products and services that are not current, currently shipping or derivations of what is currently shipping,” Cook said in an uncharacteristically halting and choppy answer. “There’s a lot of stuff that we’re doing beyond the current products.”

Blackberry’s QNX software is used in many car models to control entertainment, navigation, and other computerized systems in real time.

Dodge co-founded QNX with fellow University of Waterloo student Gordon Bell in 1980. They originally called their creation QUNIX, but changed the name QNX after getting a letter from lawyers of AT&T, which owned the trademark covering the UNIX operating system. Harman International Industries bought the company in 2004, which was then sold to Blackberry (BBRY) in 2010.