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Spotify has killed the Car Thing, its $90 in-car audio device that failed to find an audience

During a quarterly earnings call, Spotify announced that it is killing its Car Thing, a $90 touchscreen device designed to make accessing the streaming music service a lot easier for folks who don’t have an Apple CarPlay or Android Auto-compatible entertainment system, according to a report from The Verge.

It’s been a long, strange trip for Spotify’s Car Thing, which initially emerged in 2019 as a device that was only offered to a very limited set of Spotify’s customers, as a way of gathering data on people’s in-car music listening (and possibly other) habits. The move prompted a lot of speculation over when and if the company would actually sell such a device, and if so, what it would cost.

Spotify Car Thing showing an incoming call.

In 2021, Spotify started to take Car Thing sign-ups, but with a twist: Only Spotify Premium members could apply to get one, and there was no way to be guaranteed that if you signed up, you’d be admitted to the list of users. But those who did make the cut effectively got the device for free, save for a small shipping charge.

Finally, about a year later, in 2022, the company opened up Car Thing sales to anyone, for a one-time price of $90. It followed up that announcement by saying that it would be enhancing the device’s limited utility (it could really only control Spotify, and you still needed your phone with you in order to make it work), by letting it control non-Spotify media, too.

But it looks like Car Thing missed its window for success. Citing both “product demand and supply chain issues,” the company said that it will discontinue the product, a move that will reportedly cost Spotify about $32 million. Existing Car Thing owners will continue to be supported, but the company did not indicate how long that support period might last.

If you don’t mind being a part of a now-defunct product experience, Spotify appears to be selling off its remaining Car Thing units at a discount — $50 instead of its regular $90 price.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
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