Cars – these days – have a lot of tech built into them. At the same time, our phones have taken on more and more capability, and the trend has seen those phone-based features get integrated into cars via things like Apple CarPlay. But what happens when a auto manufacturer decides to put their customers over a barrel? BMW did that earlier this year, and have re-evaluated their decision.
This is something that Victor wrote about (you can see that here and here). To summarize, BMW launched Apple CarPlay integration back in 2018, and gave owners a free year?s subscription. When 2019 rolled around, they (the customers) were asked to pony up $80 for another years service. Feels a little reminiscent of ?the first one?s free?, right?
Now, coming as I do from having worked at a software company in the past, I get it – subscriptions (and renewals) are an attractive gravy train for any brand, as it?s a recurring stream of revenue from loyal customers. However, when you?re paying as much as you are for a Beemer, the subscription hit has to feel like a very petty sort of greed.
It seems the brass at BMW have seen the light, and have decided that – provided your car is running their latest infotainment system – you?ll get the integration for free for the life of the car. In other words, they?re just going to do what all the other makers have done – bury it in the cost of your lease or purchase.
For me, commuting around in my serviceable (but predating any of these integrations), I could greet the news with a solid ?meh?. These sorts of plays, though, we should definitely watch. Integrations with our mobile devices are happening in our cars and homes, and you need to be aware of what you?re going to be getting into in terms of longer term costs of ownership.
For more on this BMW-centric news, check out the articles over at Car and Driver and Autocar.