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Spotify stops making Car Thing, cuts price on current inventory

(Image courtesy Spotify, Graphic by The Desk)

Streaming music service Spotify says it has stopped manufacturing Car Thing, its $90 hands-free car accessory that aimed to make it easier for motorists to play songs and podcasts while driving.

The announcement was made Wednesday during a conference call with investors after Spotify released its quarterly earnings earlier in the day.

Car Thing was a small accessory that was designed to be attached to a car’s air conditioning vent or somewhere else on the dashboard. It was designed to help drivers keep their eyes on the road by allowing motorists to search for albums, songs and podcasts using their voice. The device also allowed passengers to play DJ by way of the gadget’s oversized control knob and multi-function button.

The device plugged into a car’s auxiliary port and was primarily aimed at users who lacked a screen-based entertainment system in their vehicles. It required drivers to pair their devices with a smartphone via Bluetooth, and used the phone’s data plan or files downloaded via the Spotify app to stream audio to the car.

Car Thing was announced by Spotify in April 2021 and was available for $90 with a special invitation. It became available to purchase without an invitation in February. This month, Spotify cut the price of Car Thing from $90 to $50 as part of a “summer sale” — one that will likely be permanent as the company seeks to liquidate its remaining inventory.

It is unclear how many Car Thing devices hit the road, but it clearly didn’t resonate with users who could just as easily pick up their phone and play music while driving (though they shouldn’t) or switch audio content when parked or otherwise stopped.

A Spotify executive said Wednesday that they intend to continue supporting existing Car Thing devices, and that customers who use them helped the company learn helpful information that will guide their decision-making processes when it comes to developing new features for people who stream Spotify content in their cars.

“This initiative has unlocked helpful learnings, and we remain focused on the car as an important place for audio,” a spokesperson for Spotify told the technology publication TechCrunch.

As part of its quarterly earnings report, Spotify said it added 19 million users in the three months ending June 30, to end the quarter with 433 million customers. Around 188 million of those users pay for Spotify via one of its many tiers of service; Spotify starts at $10 a month for one subscription and goes up to $15 a month for a family account with a maximum of six users.

Spotify competes in the domestic streaming audio market with Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal, Deezer, YouTube Music and SiriusXM Pandora.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).