Spotify Car Thing – What Happened To This Failed Product?
What is happening with the Spotify Car Thing? For a company that has had so many great innovations, why didn't this one land
Lately, music streaming giant Spotify has seen a number of various ways one can take advantage of their service. We have seen add-ons such as Receiptify, Spotify Picture Frame, Spotify Pie Chart, Spotify Palette, Spotify Key Chain, and Spotify Web Player. Last year, the streaming giant introduced to users its very first gadget in an attempt to offer an in-vehicle device for controlling its music. It is called the Spotify Car Thing. Have you heard of it? Well, if you haven’t that’s part of the problem.
SPOTIFY CAR THING
The Spotify Car Thing made its first appearance in April 2021. Yes, it has been “on the market” for well over a year now. We phrase it that way because when Spotify first introduced its Spotify-only gadget, it was in limited quantities and by invitation only. Seems like a strange way to do business.
As mentioned, the device, which looks like a smartphone, is a Spotify-only device. So, if you had other music you want to listen to, you won’t be able to with this device. The Spotify Car Thing is voice-controlled and Bluetooth-enabled. So, while you don’t need a phone, per se, to control your music, you will need one so you can Bluetooth pair it so you have access to your Spotify account. Confused? We are probably jumping the gun a bit, so let’s slow down.
When Spotify first released the device, it did so for free. If you were one of the lucky ones to get an invite to test it out, you only had to pay for the device’s shipping. Leaning on The Verge for some specifics, they describe the device as being “shockingly small and lightweight.” It is thin and comes equipped with two buttons on the front of the device. The small button serves as the Car Thing’s back button while the much larger button allows you to make your choices on whatever is on-screen.
The Spotify Car Thing does not have a speaker, so you can basically think of it as a remote for Spotify. Confused now? True, you can always opt to use your phone for your Spotify music or podcasts, but Spotify went into this venture thinking, hoping, and praying that you will want to have voice controls and an interface that is truly dedicated to the audio you listen to.
HOW DOES THE SPOTIFY CAR THING WORK?
The first thing you will want to do is mount the Spotify Car Thing. If you are like many out there who can’t live without the comfort of your smartphone being super close to you, you probably already have a mount locked and loaded. Yes, you are right in your thinking. Now you need another mount. It comes equipped with three different options to help mount it – a dash mount, vent mount, or a CD player mount. It is good to know that if you opt for the dash mount, it does not come with a suction cup, so you will have to mount it instead with a 3M adhesive. Now you have two screens looking back at you.
For you to start playing your favorite artist or your favorite playlist on the Spotify Car Thing you will need to pair it with your phone via Bluetooth. So, if you happen to be one of those who don’t enjoy unlimited data, you need to know you will be using a good amount of data to stream your music. The Car thing does not have the capability to play any of your downloaded music, unfortunately.
Seeing as how the device does not have any speakers, the only way to listen to your music is by Bluetooth over your car’s speakers or you could also connect it with an auxiliary cable. You could also keep your phone paired with the car’s Bluetooth.
The Spotify Car Thing does not come equipped with a rechargeable battery which means to use the device, it will always need to be plugged in. It does come with a 12v car adapter and with that, you can plug in the also included USB-A to USB-C cable. With the provided mounts, you can also clip a magnetic attachment which allows you to remove the device a little easier.
INTERACTING WITH THE SPOTIFY CAR THING
Now you’ve got the device wired up and ready to rock. There are three ways you can then interact with the Spotify Car Thing. You can go vocal using the “Hey Spotify” command. If that doesn’t suit you, you can use the device’s button and knob or you can use the device’s touchscreen. The Spotify Car Thing also has four preset buttons that are located at the top of the device. You can use these to set it to whatever specific content suits you.
SO, WHERE DID SPOTIFY GO WRONG?
Perhaps Spotify overestimated their customer’s want for a new Spotify-only device. Maybe they simply made a device that was more incompatible than it was compatible and although Spotify has made big strides on the streaming side by pushing big with podcasts and such to compliment their music streaming, the Spotify Car Thing just didn’t work out.
In late July, Spotify announced that its quarterly earnings saw its active monthly users jump by 19%, which equates to roughly 19 million, to bring its numbers up to 433 million. This is much better than what they had initially projected, numbers that were based on the streamer leaving Russia and a service outage they felt was sure to cost them. They projected only a 14 million increase, so when the final tally hit 19 million, Spotify was pleased. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough for Spotify to stay in the hardware field.
“The goal of Spotify’s Car Thing exploration was to better understand in-car listening, and bring audio to a wider range of users and vehicles,” a Spotify spokesperson explained to TechCrunch. “Based on several factors, including product demand and supply chain issues, we have decided to stop further production of Car Thing units. Existing devices will perform as intended. This initiative has unlocked helpful learnings, and we remain focused on the car as an important place for audio.”
Although Spotify is backing away completely from developing hardware, they are still selling their Spotify Car Thing. They are still supporting the device as well. If you wish to roll the dice on it, Spotify has dropped its price from $89.99 down to $49.99.