Spotify Testing a Voice-controlled Music and Podcast Device for Cars
Spotify announced on Friday they will start testing a voice assistant for cars in coming months. The device called “Car Thing” was developed in-house and will be available to select Spotify Premium users in the US by invite only. The trial duration is unknown. In a newsroom post on their website, Spotify says their mission is to learn more about consumer’s habits and preferences to ultimately enhance the listening experience for Spotify users while driving. Americans reportedly spend 70 billion hours driving each year. Spotify does already have some insights about consumer listening habits in the car thanks to their integration with Waze and the driving mode in the Spotify app.
Car Thing Could Be Company’s First Foray into Hardware and Not Its Last
Founded just over a decade ago in Sweden, Spotify has over 100M subscribers and 217M monthly active users. It makes sense they would capitalize on their market share and venture into hardware. Car Thing, which plugs into a car’s outlet, has a round screen on the left to display songs or podcasts being streamed, and buttons on the right side for presets. The activation is, you guessed it, “Hey Spotify.” While Spotify says they have no plans for additional devices the company trademarked “Home Thing” and “Voice Thing.”
Car assistant competition
A 2018 Voicebot study found that 50% of consumers said they’ve tried a voice assistant in the car, 2/3 of those using the assistants monthly. While Spotify may be the largest global audio stream subscription service there is competition in the vehicle voice assistant space. Amazon Echo Auto launched to a selected group in September 2018 and received over 100 million pre orders. This summer Google Assistant will release a hands-free drive mode, and car manufacturers are actively trying to release their own versions. Research shows that by 2023 there will be 20 million vehicles equipped with a voice assistant.