Wireless Technologies

Rant: Microtransactions in cars

The future of the car is up for grabs. If companies can’t figure out a way to make money in new and inventive ways from cars, will they just resort to freemium models of car ownership and micro-transactions? Here’s a bleak look at where it could end.


“I got this car for free.”


“It’s kind of like Uber, I only pay as I go.”

“But you own the car?”

“Yeah, kinda. The guy at the dealership wasn’t clear, but he said there’s a few super cheap add-ons that pop up as required. Like I can buy a Spotify account or Netflix in my car. It’s all voice activated apparently.”

“Sounds weird, shall we go for a ride and try it out?”


“Go left here.”

--- Are you sure you want to go left? It’s 10p per direction to use indicators. Please note using indicators is a legal requirement.

“But I live in Milton Keynes. It’s full of roundabouts. I indicate about three times every time I change direction.”

---Do you want to buy a day pass to indicators? It’s currently only £2 for a day, £12 for a week, £40 for a month, or £400 for the year. Limited time offer.

“Fine. Can you turn down the heat slightly and turn the music up?

--- You haven’t unlocked temperature or volume controls yet. Unlock at 10,000 miles or spent £10 now?

“Don’t bother, I’ll use my phone.”

---It’s foggy, want to turn on the high beam lights?

“Yes please.”

---That’s £2 per night.

“In that case no.”

---Unsafe driving at night will cause your insurance premiums to go up.

“Fine. Turn the lights on. We’re nearly there now anyway, can you find me a space to park?”

--- To park this vehicle you need the Ottomotive® Parker® app. You’ve not downloaded the Ottomotive® Parker® app. Download now?

[Sighs] “How much is it?”

---The Ottomotive® Parker® app is free.

“Oh, ok then, download it and find me a space.”

--- it costs £1.99 to find a parking space using the Ottomotive® Parker® app. Buy now?

“Do I have a choice?”

---Would you like to buy 100 parking spaces for £100?


“Hey how’s your new freemium car going?”

“Scrapped it. Did the maths and it would have been cheaper to buy a regular car after about six months. I’m sticking with Uber.”

“Speaking of which, did you hear Uber only does driverless cars now? I read you can try them out for free.”

“Oh cool, let’s get one later.”


--- Welcome to your Uber-AI

“Home please.”

--- You’ve not unlocked seatbelts. It’s £5 per person to use seatbelts. Please note using seatbelts is a legal requirement. Do you want to buy a day pass to seatbelts?


« News Roundup: Moore's Law, 1 billion iPhones, and Trump


Quotes of the week: "Chasing Pokeymans" »
Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

  • twt
  • twt
  • twt
  • Mail

Recommended for You

Trump hits partial pause on Huawei ban, but 5G concerns persist

Phil Muncaster reports on China and beyond

FinancialForce profits from PSA investment

Martin Veitch's inside track on today’s tech trends

Future-proofing the Middle East

Keri Allan looks at the latest trends and technologies


Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?