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BlackBerry said to be replacing Microsoft in Ford's new cars

It appears a multiyear partnership could be ending, with the car maker opting for BlackBerry to create its next-generation Sync in-car entertainment and communications technology, according to Bloomberg.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Ford has partnered with Microsoft for its Sync in-car infotainment system for years, but it's looking like the car giant may be switching to BlackBerry.

The automaker is swapping out Microsoft for BlackBerry for its next-generation in-car entertainment and communications technology, according to a Bloomberg report citing anonymous sources. Apparently, the car maker believes BlackBerry's system could be cheaper and more reliable.

Ford partnered with Microsoft in 2007 to create a fully integrated, flash memory-based system to enable drivers to call hands-free and to control a range of digital audio via voice commands and buttons mounted on the steering wheel. The system is based on Microsoft's Windows Embedded Automotive technology. Currently, Ford's Sync system is used in more than 7 million vehicles worldwide.

The news comes at an interesting time, considering that Ford CEO Alan Mulally was reportedly one of a handful of people in the running to become Microsoft's next CEO. Earlier this month, Satya Nadella was named the tech giant's new chief executive -- replacing Steve Balllmer.

As for BlackBerry, a partnership with Ford would likely be a welcome boost for the company. Facing fierce competition from smartphone makers like Apple and Samsung, BlackBerry has been struggling over the past couple of years. Last fall it announced it was for sale -- it's yet to find a suitable buyer, however.

BlackBerry owns a company called QNX -- a major software supplier to automotive companies. It's possible that Ford could adopt QNX as its device connectivity software for its cars. According to ZDNet, Microsoft has been pretty quiet on the automotive front for a number of years, suggesting it may have put its Windows Embedded Automotive technology on the back burner.

Microsoft declined to comment on whether Ford is switching to BlackBerry for its Sync system. CNET also contacted Ford and BlackBerry, and we'll update the story when we have more information.