Spotify Opens US Sales of $80 ‘Car Thing’
Spotify has begun selling its Car Thing automotive entertainment device to U.S. customers for $80. Those who joined the waitlist during the initial beta test will have priority, but others can sign up now to buy the streaming device with Spotify’s voice assistant when Spotify has enough to ship.
Spotify built the Car Thing to make its service more accessible to drivers. The device continues Spotify’s years-long effort to widen availability. managed to sign up for the limited run of devices. Drivers can mount the Car Thing on their vent or dashboard and pull up their music and other audio content by asking Spotify’s voice assistant, assigning the buttons on the top to specific playlists, or navigating with the device’s touchpad and joystick. Listeners using a mobile device to stream Spotify can transfer the sound to the car when they are about to drive, using a smartphone to connect to the internet. The Car Thing’s $80 price tag is likely as much a test as any other element of the device. The first testers received it for free, but supplies were very limited. Anyone in the U.S. can sign up to get a Car Thing now, but it requires a Spotify Premium subscription to operate.
ReadSpeaker’s VoiceLab tech provides the voice users hear when they say “Hey Spotify” or ask the AI to read any text on the screen. The April release of the voice assistant wake word predates the Car Thing, but the operation is the same. Spotify has been rumored to be working on a voice assistant for a few years. Still, this aspect was best served by a specialist, according to ReadSpeaker, which brought its experience with naturalistic voice library to the job.
The ReadSpeaker partnership had the additional benefit of freeing up Spotify employees and resources for setting up and running its Greenroom social audio platform this year. With ‘playlist-inspired shows’ and new features and tools for creators steadily rolling out, Greenroom is clearly central to Spotify’s current strategy. The Car Thing might seem like a bit of a sideshow at first glance, especially with that name, but if Spotify can take even a relatively small piece of the car audio market, it could build a very lucrative revenue stream from podcasters enticed by the company deciding to connect its Anchor podcast publishing tool to the Spotify Audience Network marketplace for audio advertising.
“At Spotify, we believe in finding the best audio companion for every moment, whether you’re taking on household chores, enjoying a moment of peaceful mindfulness, or on the go,” Spotify explained in a blog post. “With Car Thing, you can play your favorite audio faster, so you’re already listening to that hit song or the latest podcast episode before you’ve even pulled out of the driveway. Today, we’re expanding our limited U.S. release of Car Thing to users who are interested in purchasing the device. Our goal is to bring our entire catalogue of music and podcasts to a wider range of users across an even wider range of vehicles.”