I’ve been having a love/hate relationship with my BMW lately. It may seem like a trivial issue, but for me it has turned into an obsessive frustration, that I finally had to put to rest today.
When I purchased the car, I bought the iPhone USB Adapter, which is defined as:
The iPod® adaptor offers the ability to simply and easily integrate selected iPod® models and other selected MP3 players into the vehicle’s audio system. Once connected, the MP3 unit is fully controllable through the audio interface. You can then enjoy your personalized music selections delivered with the full audio capabilities and refinement of the BMW sound system.
This $400 cable connects into a USB and audio jack located deep within the arm rest console. At approximately 9-inches long, once plugged in and routed though the armrest, you are left with the plug for the phone and 2-inches of cable – hardly enough room to do anything with the phone and a complete engineering failure.
Paying $400 for a part that’s worth about $25 didn’t feel bad at the point-of-sale, after all, if you were told that you can “enjoy your personalized music selections delivered with the full audio capabilities and refinement of the BMW sound system,” wouldn’t you bite? Of course.
I’ve got nothing against the technology nor the price. The problem lies with the way BMW expects you to use this thing. The few times I did, the phone was left dangling between the arm rest and the seat during a turn. This flaw could have easily been remedied by simply adding a few extra inches to the cable.
I stopped by Staples and bought a USB and 1/8” audio extension cable and took matters into my own hands. After jury rigging these two cables, I plugged the phone in to see if it would work. After getting a warning on the phone’s screen that the device is not compatible with the phone, I dismissed it, and went to the iPod menu.
Bingo! Problem solved.
I’ve been sold on German automobiles for a long while, which is why I’m a repeat buyer of both BMW and Mercedes Benz. The quality and engineering of their vehicles is unparalleled, however I have to shake my head at small things like this and ask the question, “Why would anyone design something this functionally-deficient?” What would it take to add an extra 6-inches to the already super-overpriced $400 cable and why hasn’t anyone suggested this?
I’m sure there’s a reason for it. They may very well sell an $800 extension cable for it! But it’s the little things like this that only make customers frustrated. BMW could have created the “ultimate iPod experience” but forced me to compromise the refined look of my car’s passenger compartment by adding unsightly cables.
Now that the problem is solved, I’ll be more apt to listen to the songs stored on my iPhone, or tune into Pandora or Rhapsody as an alternative to Sirius XM Radio (which I can’t live without).
Next weekend, I’ll tackle the Mercedes which has an even crazier setup. With their iPhone interface, you need to keep the phone in the glovebox!