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Spotify kills the Car Thing

By | Published on Thursday 28 July 2022

Spotify Car Thing

Spotify’s Car Thing is dead. The streaming service announced in its Q2 earnings report yesterday that it has stopped manufacturing the device that allowed users to stream music in their cars.

It was back in 2019 that Spotify first launched the gadget, initially on an invite-only basis for research purposes – the company saying that it’s first proprietary hardware product had mainly been “developed to help us learn more about how people listen to music and podcasts”.

However, two years later the thing – still called Car Thing – went on sale to anyone who wanted it in the US. And as recently as April this year, a whole load of new functionality was added to it.

Spotify said in a statement to Engadget that “several factors” had led to the recent decision to discontinue the product. Although a key one seems to be that – despite Spotify saying in 2021 that it was making it more widely available due to “a need from our users” – not that many people actually wanted one.

After all, many newer cars now have access to streaming music built into the dashboard. And for everyone else, rather than using a special smartphone-like device to access Spotify in the car, they could probably just, you know, use their smartphone.

In its earnings report, Spotify admitted that its overall gross margin had been “negatively impacted by our decision to stop manufacturing Car Thing”, but this was “partially offset by a positive change in prior period estimates for rightholder liabilities”. Lovely stuff.

Despite the failure of the device, Spotify told Engadget that it had nevertheless “unlocked helpful learnings” from Car Thing over the last three years, and that the car remains an “important place” for audio.

For now, Spotify will continue to support existing Car Thing devices, and you can buy yourself one of those remaining in the Spotify warehouse for the knockdown price of $49.99 (previously $89.99) if failed unnecessary gadgets are your thing.

Some did ponder back in 2019 that Car Thing could be Spotify’s first step into becoming active in making and selling its own the digital music hardware. But, alas, seemingly no.

The company will just have focus on selling boring old premium subscriptions I guess. Though premium subscriber numbers went up another six million in the last quarter, so at least there’s still increasing consumer demand for those. For now at least.