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Spotify looks into building its own hardware

Job postings indicate the music-streaming giant wants to sell hardware directly to its users.
Nathan Ingraham
April 24, 2017
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Spotify, the most popular music streaming service, might be getting ready to jump into the hardware game -- if a few job postings are to be believed. The company recently posted a handful of openings that make clear references to designing and selling hardware direct to Spotify users. A posting for a senior hardware product manager says that the eventual hire would work on an initiative to "deliver hardware directly from Spotify to existing and new customers." It also indicates that the hardware would be "a category defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles."

Spotify indicates that this would be a "fully-connected" hardware device; the senior product manager would define both the internet-connected hardware requirements as well as its software. The position is located at Spotify's Stockholm, Sweden headquarters, but the listing doesn't give specifics on what the hardware would do.

A few other listings give some clues, however. A product manager posting calls for someone specifically to work in the "voice" team. "Voice is quickly becoming a key interaction mechanism for control of digital devices and services," the posting reads. "As a Product Owner for voice you will be responsible for the strategy and execution of Spotify's voice efforts beyond our core apps." This listing notes that this candidate will be working with the "major external platform providers within the voice space," which would indicate this job involves making Spotify work better on platforms like Amazon's Echo and Google Home.

But the job isn't exclusive to working with external companies. "You will be working closely with our User Interaction team and Product Managers for applicable platforms to ensure they are voice enabled in a consistent way to the benefit of our end users," the listing reads. While there's no guarantee that this person would work on the hardware initiative referred to in the other job posting, someone in this role could certainly take part in the project.

Lastly, Spotify is also looking to hire a product director who would focus on "natural language understanding." That candidate would work on building teams "dedicated to building the components of the Spotify conversational interface." That's certainly something that could be utilized in any voice-connected hardware that the company could be working on.

Piecing together a company's future moves based on job postings is naturally fraught with peril, but it looks like Spotify is at least investigating what it can do in the hardware space and how it can improve voice interactions that work with its software. Whether that means we see an official Spotify connected speaker with voice commands remains to be seen, but it's obviously an area of intense interest for many companies right now. It's also one of intense competition, so it's hard to say if it'll be worth it for Spotify to jump in and compete with the likes of Amazon and Google.

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