The Week in Geek: BMW prepares to challenge Uber, and Amazon ‘Primes’ its bookstores

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Some of BMW's 3-series ReachNow vehicles already have TNC permit stickers. Photo by Todd Bishop / GeekWire.
Some of BMW’s 3-series ReachNow vehicles have quietly gotten TNC (Transportation Network Company) permit stickers like those used by Uber and Lyft. Photo by Todd Bishop / GeekWire.

This week on the GeekWire radio show and podcast, we go behind-the-scenes to analyze two of the biggest scoops of the week.

First, Amazon has started charging non-Prime members higher prices in its physical bookstores, effectively giving preferential treatment to people who belong to its $99/year subscription program. Thanks to a tip from a reader, we broke news of the pricing strategy this week, which differs from Amazon’s earlier approach.

It’s especially interesting in light of Amazon’s broader push into physical retail, including its upcoming drive-up grocery stores. Amazon is clearly planning to extend Prime benefits to the physical world, in line with Jeff Bezos’ goal of making it “irresponsible not to be a Prime member.


Then, we dive into the new clues indicating that BMW is preparing to directly challenge Uber and Lyft in the ride-hailing market, and speculate about how BMW would combine this new push with its existing ReachNow car-sharing service.

The basic idea is that people who go through the proper registration could not only drive ReachNow cars for themselves as they do now, but also take others on rides at the same time, effectively creating a hybrid service.

“We don’t know exactly how this is going to play out, but BMW is basically utilizing their vehicles in more ways than one now,” explains GeekWire reporter Taylor Soper, who broke the story.

In other words, it truly becomes a ride-sharing service: If a ReachNow member with the proper credentials is driving a car across town, for example, that driver could simultaneously pick up a passenger to effectively pay for the ride.

Listen to the episode above, and download the MP3 here. And don’t forget to join us for a live recording of the GeekWire radio show and podcast at Fred Hutch in Seattle next Thursday, Nov. 10, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

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