In a move that elicits both the “facepalm” and “shruggie” emojis, BMW announced this week that they will move to a subscription model for offering Apple CarPlay in the US market. This is a shift from the current one-time fee of $300 that BMW charges to unlock CarPlay, which is also completely stupid, yet such a BMW thing to do. The subscription services would cost nothing for the first year, then $80 per year thereafter.
BMW says this move is beneficial for customers for two reasons. First, if an Apple owner decides to get an Android phone, they’ll only pay for CarPlay for the amount of time they’ve had an iPhone. If you’re in your first year of BMW ownership and decide to move over to a Pixel 2, you’ll have paid nothing for your CarPlay subscription. Awesome right? Except that BMW doesn’t offer Android Auto at all, so good luck with that.
If you decide you’re sticking with Apple and just can’t bring yourself to be a green bubble, BMW says that leasing a car for three years means you’re only paying for two years of CarPlay, which is $160 – a savings on the $300 you would have originally spent. Of course, if you decide to lease another BMW (assuming the first year is free then $80 a year thereafter) you’ll spend $320. So much for savings.
BMW, seemingly not content with just flooding the market with cars that blaspheme the history of the company, has found yet another way to part customers with an obscene amount of money. Charging for CarPlay is already bad enough (especially when the Chevrolet Spark, a car that costs less than $14,000, offers both CarPlay and Android Auto standard), but going to a subscription model under the guise of cost savings or freedom to switch devices is really just too far.