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Apple’s annual Apple CarPlay fare is the next level extortion

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A costly initial fee to enable a service freely available elsewhere is a bit difficult to swallow in the real world. However, in the intoxicating realm, rich in premium packages of German luxury cars, such an increase in prices is the norm. Do you prefer dark silver to silver? That will be $ 1,500 extra. Alcantara is inserted instead of leather? $ 750 at least. USB ports with which you can really do something Better call your accountant.

If there is something positive about this system, and I am here, it is that you can configure a car exactly according to your needs, a car built exclusively according to your specifications. I imagine it is a very pleasant feeling, although I confess that I never had the means to enjoy such luxury.

While GM and other manufacturers happily include Apple's CarPlay service even in their most achievable models, BMW and many others have imposed upgrade rates to enable CarPlay, or have included the service in expensive widget packages that may or may not want . That, unfortunately, is normal for this golf course rich in margins, but when we learned this week that BMW would change from a single initial fee to an annual fee in my mind that changed everything.

Instead of a single fare of $ 300, starting with the 2019 models, BMW will charge $ 80 per year for the privilege of accessing Apple's CarPlay service, which would otherwise be completely free. You get the first year free, just like your friend's neighborhood dealer of another type, but after that it's pay or have your Lightning cable cut metaphorically.

On the surface this is quite offensive, and it seemed that something must be driving this. The official word of BMW is that this is a change that will save money for many (perhaps most) of BMW owners. In fact, the segments of vehicles in which BMW plays are known for short-term leases, and those that own the car for only a few years will save money for that single sum of $ 300. But still, the notion to pay annually for something that is for free rubbed me the wrong way. And, based on the comments we saw of the article, you brushed a lot of you the wrong way too.

And then I read that Matt Bubbers an automotive journalist from Globe & Mail, received a curious statement from a representative of BMW Canada. was told that Apple would change its tariff structure so that manufacturers would have to pay for each car, per year, to keep CarPlay running. That statement has been retracted and a representative of BMW Canada told me that Mr. Bubbers received "inaccurate information". However, in the confusing hours between the initial statement and the subsequent retraction, I kept thinking: what does Apple charge for CarPlay and, in fact, what does Google charge for Android Auto?

The answer, as I would discover, is basically nothing, although it is a bit more complicated than that.

When talking with several sources in various manufacturers that offer cars with Apple CarPlay and / or Android Auto, I could quickly confirm that those rates, at least right now, do not exist CarPlay and Android Auto, which are free for consumers, too They are provided free of charge for manufacturers to include in their cars.

CarPlay is not completely free, however. As the inventor of Markdown and Apple guru Jon Gruber noted on Twitter automakers wishing to officially endorse Apple's products must pay a license fee to enter Apple's Made for iPhone (MFi) program , as any other manufacturer authorized accessory. However, as Gruber was able to confirm (and I was able to verify), this is a one-time fee. And, although I could not get anyone to disclose the exact rates involved, it is quite clear that there is an additional fee for CarPlay in addition to the base MFi license.

And there are other potential costs for manufacturers. Surely additional testing and development is required to implement the thin client interface that Apple CarPlay serves, plus the potential for software updates in the future. However, the beauty of CarPlay and Android Auto is that they work almost entirely on their phones, so cars should not need updates.

So we go back to the starting point: BMW is effectively putting a wall of payment in front of a service that is provided to you and me for free. Reflecting on this, I could not help but begin to see the parallel to the dim state of net neutrality in the US. UU Imagine if your Internet provider started charging $ 5 per month to enable YouTube and it's not far from what BMW is doing here.

This is of course the neutrality of the network in an abstract sense: automobiles, even the most pedestrian, are private, commercial products. As such, manufacturers are free to charge whatever they want for the features they like. That's how Electronic Arts can load whatever it wants for DLC and other improvements in its latest games, and we've seen how well it's been going lately .

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