RIP to Car Thing, Spotify’s Bluetooth dash accessory that required you to use your smartphone alongside it, but didn’t do anything your phone couldn’t already do on its own.
Spotify will stop manufacturing Car Thing(s), in a move announced in the company’s 2022 report. second quarter results Wednesday report. By Spotify’s own estimate, the decision to discontinue the product is costing the streamer 31 million euros (about $31.4 million).
A Spotify spokesperson says Tech Crunch that “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.” Regarding the shutdown of the device, the spokesperson further stated the following:
Based on several factors, including product demand and supply chain issues, we have decided to discontinue production of Car Thing units. Existing devices will work as expected. This initiative has unlocked some useful learnings, and we remain focused on the car as an important place for audio.
By name and purpose, Car Thing has been vague and stupid From the beginning. The dashboard accessory was intended to activate a “a seamless and personalized in-car listening experience” for Spotify’s music and podcast streaming customers. But all it does is sit on the sidelines, hogging the one precious power port, while a smartphone plays Spotify content on a car stereo via AUX or Bluetooth.
The device was first hinted at in 2019, via a Spotify Press release. Then the company launched Car Thing in a limited, invite-only launch. in April 2021. Finally, in February 2022, the dashboard accessory became available for general sale in the United States. Now, just five months later, the Thing is no longer in production (although you can still buy it on Spotify website for now, 50% off.)
Car Thing is/was touchscreen, plus dial, plus voice control device that displays a version of the Spotify app. Users mount it on the dashboard, plug it into a car’s 12V power supply, connect it to a smartphone via Bluetooth, and then connect it in the same way. telephone to the car radio.
Once all of this setup is complete, users can then navigate between songs or podcast episodes through Car Thing by giving verbal commands with the “Hey Spotify…” prompt, or using the dial on the device, touch the screen or one of the four click buttons. Except: a smartphone literally already allows you to browse Spotify with a touch screen, or buttons, or even voice commands (eg “Hey Siri…”).
You can even mount a smartphone on a dashboard (shocking, I know). And, if you want to be able to access the navigation aid while using Car Thing, you’ll have to, because there’s no GPS app on the Spotify device! Even after a series of additions and updates, Car Thing still remained actually useless.
So in the end, it’s no surprise that Spotify’s foray into hardware cost the company money. But the streaming giant itself seems to be doing well by its own measures. The company reported a 19% increase in monthly active users between this quarter and a year ago, as well as more premium subscribers. Its gross profit also appears to have increased over the past year.
Admittedly, Spotify is operating at a loss for the second consecutive quarter, after a brief rise this indicated that the business might finally become steadily profitable. Yet the profitability doesn’t seem to be the priority of the streamer. Pour one for Car Thing, but don’t worry about Spotify just yet.