BMW, a brand known for its amazing cars, a model for everyone – built with the infamous German engineering and now offering a whole bunch of options as a monthly subscription.
In some ways it makes sense. Streamline your production and build each and every car with the exact same hardware, but then limit options to those who are willing to pay out extra. Of course, options in cars is nothing new, but having the options available as a monthly subscription seems a bit… well, I wouldn’t want to use the word underhand, but it feels that way.
Yes, I know, any wise person can work out that they only need heated seats for 2 months of the year, so they will only be paying $36 a year and have it on demand. Personally, I’m not a wise person and have fallen for many of the “subscribe for less than a cup of coffee a week” offerings and subsequently am apparently drinking 20 million cups of coffee a month.
Hackers love these kinds of options. If it’s only software stopping you from accessing a feature, then you can tinker around and get access to it.
However, as Cory Doctorow reminds us, hacking devices you own can land you in hot water.
In fact, you only need to ask farmers with John Deere tractors over the issues with repair and software locks.
To be clear, I’m not anti-subscription model. I enjoy Netflix and Spotify as much as the next person. I just think there’s a time and a place with subscriptions and certainly when you own a physical device, things begin to delve into grey areas. Like how when Sonos was going to cease delivering software updates to its oldest products in a move that was perceived as planned obsolescence, requiring the CEO to apologise and backtrack.
We’re in a time of great change – unprecedented times. Everyone and their dog wants to charge you something on an ongoing basis for less than a price of a cup of coffee. I’m more of a tea person myself.