Spotify discontinued its Car Thing dashboard accessory barely five months after its official launch. Spotify announced the Car Thing player in 2019 before making it available for purchase on an invite-only basis in April 2021. Spotify opened up a public wait list for the device last October before it went on general sale in Feb. 2022. The device, which allowed users to control their Spotify playback while driving safely, was first leaked in April 2018.
The Car Thing was the first hardware offering from the Swedish music streaming giant, which remains the largest player in the sector ahead of competitors like Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal and Pandora, among others. According to reports from earlier this year, Spotify had 182 million paying subscribers globally in the first quarter of 2022, up from 158 million during the same period last year. Alongside 82 million audio tracks, the service also offers more than four million podcast titles, including controversial ones, like The Joe Rogan Experience.
In its latest earnings report released earlier today, Spotify revealed that it discontinued its Car Thing dashboard accessory only five months after its official launch. The company did not offer any reason for killing off the Car Thing but noted that the device cost the company €31 million (around $32 million). As for current Car Thing owners, a spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch that all existing Car Thing devices will continue to function normally and that the company will continue to explore new ways to monetize car audio in the future.
When the Car Thing was first leaked in 2018, the renders showcased a strange contraption with a circular, monochrome display. The final product looked a whole lot better, thanks to a rectangular color touchscreen display with multiple physical buttons to control playback, as well as a rotating navigation dial. Users could connect the Car Thing to a car’s speakers via Bluetooth, USB or AUX cable. It also needed to be connected to a smartphone to power the Spotify playback. The device also accepted ‘Hey Spotify’ voice commands and was intended to make it safer for drivers to use Spotify while behind the wheel.
However, it was still a niche product with a very narrow appeal, as it was primarily designed for Spotify super-fans who spend a lot of time on the road. As it turned out, there aren’t enough of them, and even those interested probably end up using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for their music playback needs anyway. Interestingly, despite Spotify pulling the plug on the Car Thing, it is still available for purchase on the company’s official website, but at $49.99 apiece instead of the usual $89.99.