It used to be you eventually paid off your car and stopped paying for it once you did. Well, at least insofar as regards paying the company you bought it from. You were – still are – obliged to pay the government (in a number of states) a regular mordita styled “property tax” as the condition of being allowed to retain possession of what you thought you bought.
And now the car companies want to get in on that action.
GM – emulating Tesla, which was the first car company to do something along these lines – announced the other day that it will no longer “support” Apple CarPlay and its non-Apple equivalent, AndroidAuto – so as to be able to wheedle people who buy GM vehicles into subscribing to its new proprietary infotainment system.
Edward Kummer, who is GM’s Chief Digital Officer – yes, they have these now at car companies – explains:
“As we scale our EVs and launch our Ultifi software platform, we can do more than ever before with in-vehicle technologies and over-the-air updates. All of this is allowing us to constantly improve the customer experience we can offer across our brands.”
What the customer will experience is not being able to use his phone in the car. Or rather, with the car. Instead, he will “experience” paying a regular fee to subscribe to Ultifi – a cheesy concatenation meant to convey the “ultimate” in “fi,” a likely reference to WiFi connectivity . . . with GM, of course.
If you pay, GM will let you play. If you don’t, the music won’t play – and various other “apps” – like the navigation system – won’t work. If you do pay, GM will play – with the data it mines (and sells) without cutting you in on a piece of the action.
The first new GM vehicle to come sans Apple CarPlay/Android auto will be the 2024 Chevy Blazer EV. And to make it go down easier, GM will not require payment for the first eight years. To get people used to what they’ll eventually miss when they stop making payments.
GM isn’t the pioneer here.
That honor falls to Tesla, whose business model GM (and it’s not just GM) sees and envies. When you buy a Tesla – which is a device more than it is a car – you pay to use certain options, such as the vaunted “autopilot” self-driving system, for instance. Italics to emphasize the fact that you do not buy – and so, own – these options. It is the business model of Microsoft, which was the first to pioneer the idea of making you pay in perpetuity for what you bought but never own.
At one time, you bought a software suite and then it was yours. Times changed – and what you bought was a license to use the software for a period of time, subject to renewal. If you did not pay the fee, the software was no longer yours in that it no longer worked. If you wanted it to continue working, you had to continue paying.
Tesla applied that same model to its models. People who bought a second-hand Model S that originally came with options such as autopilot discovered their option was to pay for them – again – if they wanted to have the use of the options the original buyer paid for.
BMW will sell you a subscription to heated seats – just $18 per month! The hardware – the heating elements, wiring and so on – are built into the car but they don’t work unless you pay – over and over and over, again. This writer recently drove a new BMW that had a “store” in the car – which the driver-renter could tap to debit – in order to activate various pay-to-play features, such as a built-in camera system that lets you video record the environment around you as you drive, kind of like a GoPro except you don’t own it.
These “microtransactions,” as they are styled, are “the future,” we are told. The very future envisioned by the man who says we will eat ze bugs, who tells us forthrightly that we will own nothing – which begs the question as to who will then own everything – and that we will be “happy.”
In the manner of a plantation slave.
If you read antebellum apologies for slavery, they literally state this same thing. The slaves were provided for; they had everything they needed. Ergo, they did not need to own anything!
They were far happier than the wage-serfs of the North, who had to figure out how to feed and house themselves and also provide for themselves in their old age. Down South, massa took care of all that.
And who wouldn’t be happy about that?
. . .
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