Spotify has made overtures about getting into the hardware business before, but now it’s for real with the introduction of its new “Car Thing,” a smart speaker designed specifically for the automobile. The device is now in limited release in the United States for a select number of Spotify subscribers.
Car Thing comes with three different mounts, and can pair with multiple Spotify subscribers’ smartphones. It can be activated via “Hey Spotify,” to access playlists, songs and podcasts from a Spotify Premium account (sorry, no freebee accounts here). There’s also a scroll knob to quickly find a particular preset that can be set just for the device, which shows up on a nice color display. The presets can be configured to download for offline listening, something that rural customers with limited internet connection will find extremely useful.
This is the first dedicated smart speaker just for the car and is clearly aimed at the millions of used cars out there that don’t have access to streaming built in already. It’s been estimated that at least half the cars on the road today are at least 11 years old, which is long before connectivity was being built in as standard so these are prime targets for the device.
Perhaps the best thing is that Car Thing is available virtually for free at the moment. It will retail for $79 eventually, but there’s a $79 discount right now making your cost $0. You do have to pay $6.99 for shipping and handling but that’s still a great deal if this will bring a new streaming feature to an old auto.
This is actually a brilliant move by Spotify if the device gets any kind of traction. It will boost the number of streams, increase the number of paying subscribers, and should make both stock analysts and record label execs smile. For artists, any increase in the number of paying subscribers is a good thing, but until the monthly fee goes up, expect the griping about royalty payouts to continue.