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Businesses The Almighty Buck

BMW's Apple CarPlay Annual Fee is Next-level Gouging (cnet.com) 223

BMW announced this week that the company plans to shift Apple CarPlay infotainment support from a one-time fee to a subscription service. Tim Stevens, writing about the implications of the move for CNET: While GM and other manufacturers happily include Apple's CarPlay service for free even on their most attainable models, BMW and plenty of others have levied upgrade fees to enable CarPlay, or bundled the service inside pricey packages of widgets you may or may not want. That, sadly, is par for this margin-rich golf course, but when we learned this week that BMW would change from a single, up-front fee to an annual fee, in my mind that changed everything. Instead of a one-time, $300 fee, starting on 2019 models BMW will charge $80 annually for the privilege of accessing Apple's otherwise totally free CarPlay service. You do get the first year free, much like your friendly neighborhood dealer of another sort, but after that it's pay up or have your Lightning cable metaphorically snipped.

On the surface this is pretty offensive, and it seemed like something must be driving this. The official word from BMW is that this is a change that will save many (perhaps most) BMW owners money. Indeed, the vehicle segments where BMW plays are notorious for short-term leases, and those owning the car for only a few years will save money over that one-time $300. But still, the notion of paying annually for something that's free rubbed me the wrong way. And, based on the feedback we saw from the article, it rubbed a lot of you the wrong way, too.

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BMW's Apple CarPlay Annual Fee is Next-level Gouging

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  • What the... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kelemvor4 ( 1980226 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:18PM (#55961265)
    Carplay isn't a service. It's a pair of software programs, one runs in your car - the other on your phone. Bizarre. BMW must want their customers to switch to Android, maybe they have an investment in Google or one of the Android handset manufacturers.
    • Re:What the... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Arkham ( 10779 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:27PM (#55961387)

      Carplay isn't a service. It's a pair of software programs, one runs in your car - the other on your phone. Bizarre. BMW must want their customers to switch to Android, maybe they have an investment in Google or one of the Android handset manufacturers.

      They charge the monthly fee for Android Auto too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sexconker ( 1179573 )

        Android Auto is absolutely worthless. Just throwing that out there. All I want is:

        1) My phone's display to be shown on my car's touch screen, and the car's touch screen to work for controlling my phone. I don't need an app integrating vehicle information or controls into this. The only other requirement is that I have a way to toggle between Android Auto and the car's regular display and controls.

        2) The audio to work like it already does. (Actually, I'd like to get my car's audio but interrupted with

        • Re:What the... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @01:36PM (#55962035)

          That's it. Don't give me a different interface. Don't lock out features or apps. Don't throw me into a dedicated mode on my phone.

          I have a better one for you: Don't use a shitty interface that demands a lot of attention while you're using your car.

          Dear Google,
          On behalf of all the road users around sexconker please continue to not give him what he wants. We thank you for it.
          Signed,
          The luckily still alive because sexconker hasn't killed us yet.

          • I have a better one for you: Don't use a shitty interface that demands a lot of attention while you're using your car.

            It requires a lot of attention if you're a 90 year old Florida woman trying to remember which icon to push to deactivate your turn signal. For everyone without dementia it takes essentially zero attention. He's not talking about browsing Slashdot while driving; he's talking about being able to look at GPS instructions on his in-car display.

            • For everyone without dementia it takes essentially zero attention.

              Ahhh yes, you're another one of those 90% of people who think they are above average drivers. But you are unique in one way: Most of those other people have actual reading comprehension skills. Specifically the bit about where he's complaining about being restricted in apps, and having a dumbed down interface. ... You know, all the shit he's actually talking about rather than what you think he's talking about.

              • Ahhh yes, you're another one of those 90% of people who think they are above average drivers.

                No, I'm one of those 90% of people who don't suffer from dementia. Since you appear to be in the other 10% I think it's best that you stay off the road.

                • No, I'm one of those 90% of people who don't suffer from dementia. Since you appear to be in the other 10% I think it's best that you stay off the road.

                  You know the first step to solving it is to admit you have a problem. You have a long way to go yet especially since you think you're able to judge my driving skills based on what I wrote. There's early onset dementia right there, to go with your stupid dangerous attitude towards driving.

                  I wish you a long life, but somehow I doubt it will happen.

        • Don't place ****** restrictions on ****. Just make it ******* work so I can have Google Maps on my ******* car's screen.

          Excuse me, young man! Is it really necessary for you to cuss so much?

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          I can't figure out why carmakers and phone makers can't deliver on something as apparently simple as "remote desktop with touch screen interface". I gotta believe both current iOS & Android OS/Windowing systems can support this from a basic software feature set, maybe even with dynamic screen sizes/resolutions, too.

          Just doing this would literally make using a phone in the car safer. The same idiots who will try to use Snapchat on the road will still do it, they just won't be doing and juggling a phone

          • by Shotgun ( 30919 )

            I can't figure out why carmakers and phone makers can't deliver on something as apparently simple as "remote desktop with touch screen interface". I gotta believe both current iOS & Android OS/Windowing systems can support this from a basic software feature set, maybe even with dynamic screen sizes/resolutions, too.

            Just doing this would literally make using a phone in the car safer. The same idiots who will try to use Snapchat on the road will still do it, they just won't be doing and juggling a phone in their hands.

            I don't get it why device makers don't make this more straightforward for carmakers to support and vice versa, why carmakers have to make it more retarded or do dumb shit like BMW's rental concept.

            Is it just a plot to make car/phone integration so shitty people just leave their phones at home?

            Product liability laws. The same reason when I try to turn up the volume with my headphone, I first have to dig the phone out of my pocket and agree that listening to loud music can harm my hearing. And, I have to agree....every.....single....time. You may wreck while Snapchatting, but Google, et.al., can proclaim in court that they tried to protect you from yourself.

        • I agree. I was kind of excited to get a new car with an interface for my iPhone. I plugged it in and was thoroughly underwhelmed. Instead of seeing my screen, I just saw a few random useless apps that didn't work as well as what was on my phone. I really wanted to use google maps for directions/traffic, but I guess that isn't going to happen. I haven't used Apple Carplay since...
    • Exactly. This is just in the system. There is no charge. This is just some way to turn something that is not a subscription, into a subscription service, with some PR in place to make it sound like it's a good deal.
    • Carplay isn't a service. It's a pair of software programs, one runs in your car - the other on your phone. Bizarre. BMW must want their customers to switch to Android, maybe they have an investment in Google or one of the Android handset manufacturers.

      Actually the head end has very little software, it's just like a hardware VNC. The UI is entirely dependent on iOS or Android. It also means bug fixes and enhancements to the UI come with OS updates.

      For BMW to charge $80/mo is pure larceny.

      • For BMW to charge $80/mo is pure larceny.

        It's $80/yr., not $80/mo., and the first year is free. Compared to the original $300 flat rate the breakeven point is around 4.75 years; if you change vehicles at least that often then the subscription model ends up being less expensive.

        The fact that both the original $300 flat-rate and the new $80/yr. subscription are a bit excessive for just turning on a relatively trivial software feature—not including the necessary hardware, which was already included with the vehicle—is an entirely separate

        • by rsborg ( 111459 )

          Agreed. I have CarPlay on my $31k ($16.5K after EV and dealer rebates ) Ford Focus Electric as part of the base price.

          Perhaps - perhaps, the BMW hardware integration for CarPlay is somehow better, but on my FFE is pretty dang nice and ALL of that UI/UX is done by Apple.

          So it's just usury just like when Apple asks Spotify / Netflix to pay 30% of any account charges originated from an iOS account (though in that case you can get around it by opening up the account outside of an Apple device).

    • If they can disable it if your don't pay the fee there must be some sort of service running in the background.

  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:19PM (#55961269)

    You have to pay for BMW Assist and navigation updates too. If you don't like it don't buy the car. It's easy.

    • You have to pay for BMW Assist and navigation updates too. If you don't like it don't buy the car. It's easy.

      That's ok. I didn't.

    • There's only one problem with that. Apple has already demonstrated that when they add a customer-hostile change to their lineup, other manufacturers will follow suit. eg: Fixed batteries, no headphone jack, etc.

      Everyone laughed at Apple. But then everyone started copying, including the manufacturers that initially laughed, like Google.

      This seems to me to be a very similar narrow-end-of-the-wedge kind of thing. Unless there's a very vocal and hostile response to this, I am willing to bet that other manu

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        There's only one problem with that. Apple has already demonstrated that when they add a customer-hostile change to their lineup, other manufacturers will follow suit. eg: Fixed batteries, no headphone jack, etc.

        More like: all these problems aren't actually problems unless Apple is involved, [tumblr.com] due to the Hatorade Distortion Field.

        • Well, it IS a problem, because Apple has so little variation in their products that you are forced to take it or leave it. Combine that with Apple's popularity/visibility, and any questionable decision they make is greatly magnified. Every other manufacturer has multiple products in their lineup with varying features, so if their mainstream model doesn't suit you, there's at least a decent chance that another device will.

          But things like non-removable batteries? AFAIK apple started this trend, and everyon

    • But those are active services they provide and it costs them to maintain those things.. Apple Carplay is just... there. Once installed, there is nothing they have to do, and no extra cost to them. In fact, they have to disable the Carplay remotely somehow at the end of the free year if you don't pony up.
  • by Arkham ( 10779 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:25PM (#55961369)

    All new Audis have CarPlay support. My A4 has a CarPlay and supports Android Auto too.

    Other luxury brands that also have it without a recurring fee:

    https://www.apple.com/ios/carp... [apple.com]

    Mercedes
    Volvo
    Alfa Romeo
    Porsche
    Lincoln
    Cadillac
    Bentley
    Astin Martin

    Just don't buy a BMW -- the other brands are generally better cars anyway. Audis are awesome.

  • I'm not sure even leases come out ahead here. Although the lessee doesn't get the full value of carplay over the lifetime of the vehicle, they also don't pay for the entire vehicle- only the depreciation on the vehicle for the period of the lease plus a profit margin. So, while it added $300 to the vehicle cost, it probably only added around $100 to the total lease payments over 3-years. Under this scheme, a 3-year lessee will pay $160 to have carplay for the duration.

  • by Drunkulus ( 920976 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:36PM (#55961457)
    I wonder if BMW drivers would use turn signals if they were Apple branded and cost more?
    • by Strider- ( 39683 )

      Any time i feel like my job is meaningless and/or futile, I just think about the poor SOB who installs the turn signals on BMWs, and then I don't feel so bad.

      • The BMWs that are sold in Europe probably have their turn signals used quite faithfully. It's the stupid American BMW buyers who don't.

    • LOL... yes, replace the little arrows with tiny Apple, Inc. logos, with rainbow pattern, and have the colors undulate as the blinkers are on. Sure, Steve Jobs would probably call this over-branding, but it would be worth it if it could get BMW (and other expensive car owners) to use their turn-signals like they're LEGALLY REQUIRED to. Ah, what a wonderful world...
  • Well, people have the same kind of complaint that luxury hotels charge their customers for wifi access (who are already paying top $ for the room). It's a price discrimination, willingness to pay thing.

    Separately, BMW is falling way behind in awareness of consumer preferences for technology. They're relegating the product ownership of this stuff to a stepchild, while consumers are actually viewing it one of the core experiences of driving now. This is a mistake.
  • by Luthair ( 847766 )
    While GM is offering Android Auto & Carplay on most of their cars, they are starting to introduce ads into their infotainment. Just another reason to disconnect the onstar modem if tracking your ever move weren't enough.
  • by nicholasjay ( 921044 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @01:00PM (#55961643)

    They says that for leases, the 'pay per year' method is cheaper, but let's boil that down.

    On a three year least, with the 'pay per year' method, you'll pay $0 for your first year and $80 for each of your next two years. So $160 total.

    If you leased the car with the one-time $300 fee, you don't pay $300. You pay Sales Price minus Residual. And the residual on some of these cars is up to ~60% of sales price. So lets say that the residual on a BMW is 58%, that means Car Play would have cost you $300* 0.42 = $126! Still cheaper! You'd have to have a residual less than 47% for the new method to be worth it.

    • They says that for leases, the 'pay per year' method is cheaper, but let's boil that down.

      On a three year least, with the 'pay per year' method, you'll pay $0 for your first year and $80 for each of your next two years. So $160 total.

      If you leased the car with the one-time $300 fee, you don't pay $300. You pay Sales Price minus Residual. And the residual on some of these cars is up to ~60% of sales price. So lets say that the residual on a BMW is 58%, that means Car Play would have cost you $300* 0.42 = $126! Still cheaper! You'd have to have a residual less than 47% for the new method to be worth it.

      You are assuming that the CarPlay license is part of that residual. Is CarPlay transferable to the new owner? Are you sure the "remainder" of the CarPlay fee goes into the residual value? I expect CarPlay is outside that residual. The residual is supposed to be the wholesale value of the car. If CarPlay is not transferable it can not be part of that value.

      • They says that for leases, the 'pay per year' method is cheaper, but let's boil that down.

        On a three year least, with the 'pay per year' method, you'll pay $0 for your first year and $80 for each of your next two years. So $160 total.

        If you leased the car with the one-time $300 fee, you don't pay $300. You pay Sales Price minus Residual. And the residual on some of these cars is up to ~60% of sales price. So lets say that the residual on a BMW is 58%, that means Car Play would have cost you $300* 0.42 = $126! Still cheaper! You'd have to have a residual less than 47% for the new method to be worth it.

        You are assuming that the CarPlay license is part of that residual. Is CarPlay transferable to the new owner? Are you sure the "remainder" of the CarPlay fee goes into the residual value? I expect CarPlay is outside that residual. The residual is supposed to be the wholesale value of the car. If CarPlay is not transferable it can not be part of that value.

        Right now it absolute is part of the residual. Right now in BMWs, CarPlay is an optional feature (despite that on most other cars CarPlay is included as a standard feature). Think of it like an optional sunroof. The leasee pays part of that cost just like he pays for part of the car in general.

        My current car has CarPlay. If I sell the car to someone else, she gets CarPlay, too. Just like she gets the sunroof I paid extra for. It's part of the car. CarPlay isn't a service (like satellite radio, for instance

        • oops, responded AC ...

          You are assuming that the CarPlay license is part of that residual. Is CarPlay transferable to the new owner? Are you sure the "remainder" of the CarPlay fee goes into the residual value? I expect CarPlay is outside that residual. The residual is supposed to be the wholesale value of the car. If CarPlay is not transferable it can not be part of that value.

          BMW will lock CarPlay, though.

          That's my point. If CarPlay is not transferable to that next owner/leasee then it does not seem to be part of the residual for BMWs.

  • by technosaurus ( 1704630 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @01:06PM (#55961731)
    Way back in the day, one of the many reasons I went with the PS3 vs the Xbox360, was that they didn't require an anual fee to access services that were not provided by their network (youtube, netflix, etc...)
  • Way back in the before times, I had a Blackberry provided by my employer. It was on Verizon. The device had GPS hardware built in, and Google Maps was already a thing. But as soon as I activated with Verizon, they remotely disabled the GPS. For an additional $4.95/month I could have "Blackberry Navigation", which was a worse implementation of Google Maps.

  • If BMW was interested in making Carplay more palatable to those who lease, they'd eliminate the fee altogether. Making people pay for integration with an infotainment system that has a UI so terrible it's legendary while it's totally free on the most "pedestrian" vehicles is beyond stupid/greedy.

  • We don't?

    No sale, then, absolutely.

  • As the new "features" of cars become more and more software-based, I expect monthly subscription fee presence to become more and more universal. It is a lot easier to enable a feature implemented in software (just toggle a flag), than it is to bring the car back to the dealer and install a feature that requires hardware. So as the focus of features becomes the dashboard display and the software that enables it, the car manufacturers are only going to exploit those features more and more for their monthly
  • You could argue that BMW drivers don't deserve this, but Apple users certainly do.

  • Presumably you understand that you are buying a BMW and how much you will be wasting upfront and on maintenance/fuel costs. And that you can have "CarPlay" for $10 one time investment. [amazon.com]. Let's not even go into Apple tax. If money is not an object for you, what do you care either way on buy vs subscribe? All things being equal, I would go for subscription. A lot of things could change by the time a purchase would break even in 4 years - I may not drive the same car, I may not use iPhone (I don't know, but I a

    • It's principle more than anything else. CarPlay isn't a service, it's just software that's already installed on your car. It seems ridiculous to pay a monthly fee to license software that other carmakers give you for free. When you pay for a premium, luxury experience, features like this should be included. That's the entire point of a luxury car; stuff that makes life easier and more comfortable is included.

      Can BMW owners afford it? If course they probably can. But having to pay monthly fees for stuff that

      • by iamacat ( 583406 )

        I kind of agree that at this price point you shouldn't be nickled and dimed. But as for ownership rather than service, it depends on nature of the thing. I don't see CarPlay being durable without ongoing hardware and software support. My previous car had a cassette player. I would rather have paid an annual fee for music playback and have VW incentivised to help me upgrade it to iPod cable and then Bluetooth - or stop paying and come up with my own solution if they flaked out. Ownership is for when I am su

  • by alteran ( 70039 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @02:32PM (#55962529)

    Rents are the future of innovation.

    Taste the Freedum!

  • Is there some way in which I can boycott, in protest, misbehavior of a corporation when I was not planning to buy their products ANYWAY? I suppose I could buy a shirt emblazoned with "Fuck BMW" but somehow, I don't think it would really have any effect besides making people wonder, "why is that guy wearing a 'Fuck BMW' shirt?" and "What did they ever do to him"? To this I would be obliged to reply, "well, they're planning to start CHARGING their customers for using Apple CarPlay!" to which they'd likely r
  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @04:44PM (#55963579)

    The problem with something like this is that they're trying to extend the subscription model to everything. It's part of the physical goods makers' obsession with making consumers pay for a product over and over rather than owning it outright.

    With rare exceptions, there are 2 types of people who buy BMWs:
    - People who "rent" them on a throwaway basis on 2/3-year business leases, who will only pay $160 or $240 to rent CarPlay access before they turn it back in for another one. Even if it was $500 a year, the people in this set probably wouldn't blink an eye.
    - People who buy them used because they like the cars, who will now not benefit from a pre-activiated CarPlay. Even many enthusiasts don't buy BMWs new...they're too expensive and it makes sense to let some doctor or real estate agent eat the depreciation.

    BMW fans and Apple fans are also in the union part of that particular Venn diagram for the most part, so I'm really surprised they're doing this. Not really though...lately, they've been doing things like requiring that key parts like the battery be "programmed" by the dealer before they work, and basically any part with space for flash memory in it is a target for this too. (Adaptive headlight controllers are a good example.) I imagine that just like Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud, consumers will just accept paying and paying to use something they bought.

    It's too bad they're continuing down this road. Infotainment and other electronics are already fiddly enough once they age sufficiently, and now you have to pay to access them.

  • I don't need no infotainment in my car. Give me an AM/FM radio with a USB port to plug a thumbdrive with all my songs and that's all.

    And please, could we have our climate control knobs back? Independant from the radio?

    I'll probably be on the market for a new car in 2-3 years, but I'm afraid I won't find any car that will fit my requirements... I don't want an IOT car. Can I rip the antenna out?

    I feel like I should browse the Classic Cars ads instead of going to dealerships.

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