The Value Of Nothing

Pounds into pence, dollars into cents, muckles into mickles (look it up..), the internet has changed pricing models and forced new business models on companies.

So, why did the news that BMW are about to start charging $80 a year to enable Apple Play in their cars rile me so much ?

After all, car companies charge everything that should be standard as not standard ("you want wheels on your car !? That will be another $15,000, $20,000 with tires and $25,000 if you want them inflated.."). A $5 USB point in a car becomes a $500 Infotainment option.

But I already own my iPhone and it works brilliantly with the added on Pioneer system in my twelve year old Audi (as does my wife's Android Car). The thought of buying a new car for $80,000 and then paying a measly subscription, albeit low, has me angry.

And it made me think. I am happy to pay $5-$10 for a streaming service. I consider Sky's Sports service at around $45 far, far too expensive, especially since it's ram full of adverts too, and would be willing to turn to pirate sources as a result (obviously, I do not...).

I used to happily pay a dollar or so for a daily newspaper, but now $5 for an online newspaper subscription seems too much. Of course, I understand totally the need to fund opinionated journalists who wish to become PMs, and in some cases succeed, but 'quality journalism' is just rubbish - from The New York Times or Washington Post to The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, you just get opinions, albeit sometimes with the correct spelling and grammar.

I remember when subscriptions to 'reputable' online data services cost $10k, $20k or $50k - there was a cost of doing business. If you wanted to be a trader you needed a Bloomberg terminal and that came with a five figure subscription.

No more.

The other night I paid $600 for an evening meal. It was at a two star Michelin restaurant, and was nowhere near worth the price in my opinion.

You can buy a watch from the Swatch Group for $50 or for $5,000. Either will tell the time accurately as far as I know.

At the end of the day, a price is what you are willing to pay. These days people are willing to pay silly numbers for experiential tickets but nothing for an online service.

But the problem is that no one has played this out.

Sure, we will rent cars by the hour (and probably the roads they travel on), we can fly to another continent cheaper than we can rail it to the next city, but where does this end ?

Labour has little or no value since it can be replaced by capital (ironically, according to Marx, this was the point at which capitalism would implode and socialism succeed. Sorry to tell you, Karl...).

Software is about to replace drivers and doctors.

Where does it end and what are the consequences since the result has already been to deliver clownish leaders such as Trump and Johnson and power mad global plutocrats like Zuckerberg, Bezos and Zhang ?