Spotify introduced Car Thing to the world earlier in February. It launched at an $89.99 price tag in the US, and it promised to provide more control and freedom than using your smartphone while driving. The idea was good; it was fairly inexpensive, yet it failed to take off, and it’s now getting discontinued.
The Spotify Car Thing was available for a while, but it required people to be invited to purchase one. The invitation system was finally ditched in February when the company made it officially available on its website. The Car Thing shipped with all necessary accessories and tools to mount it in cars, but it required a separate Spotify Premium subscription to play music. It was aimed at hardcore Spotify users, who wanted to take their music experience to another level.
Spotify today announced its quarterly earnings, which shares that the company grew its monthly active user base by 19%, reaching more than 433 million users. However, the company missed its gross margin and said it was “negatively impacted by our decision to stop manufacturing Car Thing”.
A spokesperson told TechCrunch 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. 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.
The good news is that Spotify plans on maintaining already purchased devices, although it’s unclear how long they’ll function as intended. The other good news is that this has helped Spotify do more research on how people listen to audio while traveling and commuting. Hopefully, that'll help the company improve its new Car Mode feature, which still hasn’t been rolled out to all users.
What’s next for Spotify?
It’s almost certain that Spotify is unlikely to start another hardware venture any time soon, but one thing is sure. Spotify learned a lot from launching a hardware product specifically aimed at drivers. The company invested a lot of money into researching and designing this product. We can only hope this will accelerate the software development for the company’s Car Mode feature.
For those unaware, Car Mode is the successor of the discontinued Car View feature. Once enabled, and the smartphone recognizes that it’s connected to a car’s audio system, it’ll display a larger UI to make it easier to navigate and use while – ideally stationary or parked up on the side of the road – driving.
The Car Mode feature hasn’t been available in all regions, and it doesn’t solve all of the problems, as it still requires either a physical or wireless connection to connect to a smartphone. However, Android Auto and Apple Car Play had the Spotify app available for a long time, and the discontinuation of the Car Thing makes us believe that Spotify will invest even more research, time, and money into enhancing its application and service on those platforms. Hopefully, this will result in fewer distractions, and we’re also hoping to see a better Google Assistant, Siri, and Amazon Alexa integration for voice control. Speaking of voice control, we’d also love to see Spotify widely roll out and improve its own assistant feature, which offers most of the same functionality as the best-known voice assistants.
Rolling out a native Spotify voice assistant feature could help smartphone users change songs and navigate to different playlists without getting distracted, and taking their eyes off the road. While Google, Apple, and Amazon offer their own smart assistant functionality, Spotify’s native one could offer even more benefits at a faster speed.
Spotify Car Thing is currently discounted by $40 to get rid of the remaining stocks. This might be the best time to buy if you’d like to pick one up for $49.99.