Spotify formally unveiled the limited availability of its first hardware product, the unusually called Car Thing, in the United States this morning. The device is targeted at Spotify Premium subscribers and can be booked at Site. The latest device — which Spotify, unexpectedly, is selling for free plus delivery.
This model features a touchscreen, a large, grippable navigation knob, voice control capabilities, and four preset buttons at the top for accessing favourite songs, podcasts, or playlists, close to how Spotify works on mobile devices.
Initially, Car Thing will be accessible for free during this exclusive distribution time, with chosen customers only paying for delivery — a decision taken by Spotify due to the experimental nature of Car Thing.
The business stated that its investment in Car Thing is motivated by a desire to meet the needs of consumers seeking a “more streamlined” and customised in-car listening experience. While several vehicles now come equipped with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Spotify notes that the average age of a car in the United States is only 11 years, and the average lifespan of a car is 18 years. This suggests that a sizable proportion of vehicles on the road today do not accept new in-car infotainment systems.
Car Thing is being launched to support this demand — and, more possibly, to enable Spotify to experiment with potential business models that include a more intimate interaction with consumers within the vehicle, though the company is remaining mum on its long-term plans at the moment.
The latest Car Thing is a slim (4.6′′ x 2.5′′ x 0.7′′) and lightweight (3.4 oz.) music and podcast player that uses a mix of voice modulation, knobs, keys, and a touchscreen interface to navigate its menus and pick the media to listen to. You may configure the system to operate through Bluetooth or an AUX or USB cord, based on how you typically attach your phone to your car stereo for music playback.
Additionally, you can mount Car Thing in a range of ways to your dash, as the kit comes with three separate styles of dash and vent mounts, as well as a car adapter and USB-C cord.
At the outset, Car Thing will take you on a short drive, explaining how to get started. The user experience is similar to that of the Spotify mobile app, so it should be familiar to first-time users. Here, you will communicate with the tablet by tapping, swiping, or speaking. The knob enables rapid navigation of your options — an activity that might seem more natural for those used to dealing with knobs on their car’s built-in stereo.
Four preset buttons run across the top of the screen, allowing you to save your favourite material for easier access. These are loaded by design with your Liked Songs and Spotify’s Daily Drive and Morning Commute playlists, with the final preset bare. Although certain people would retain these options, Spotify notes that they can be changed at any time.
According to Spotify, the device is already retailing for $80. It is unsure, however, whether or not it would begin retailing the unit. However, it will release software patches to ensure that the device is not automatically redundant if Spotify wishes to choose a different path in the future.
Despite Spotify’s interest in hardware, the organisation has stated that it does not plan to become a hardware company. If anything, it is more probable that Spotify is considering becoming the next SiriusXM with a specialised in-car experience — but one that is much more of an add-on than SiriusXM, since you would manually mount the thing — the Car Thing — to your dash. In the long run, it’s unclear if developing a Vehicle Thing product line makes sense, as vehicles get smarter and infotainment systems become more standard.