Spotify's Car Thing player is no longer a thing

Low demand was partly to blame.

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Jon Fingas
July 27, 2022 9:20 AM
Spotify Car Thing in vintage vehicle
Spotify

Spotify's less-than-stellar quarter can be partly blamed on a decision to exit the hardware business. As part of its earnings data, the streaming service revealed that it stopped manufacturing its Car Thing player. In a statement to Engadget, a company spokesperson pinned the decision on "several factors" that included customer demand and supply chain problems. The withdrawal hurt Spotify's gross profits.

Existing Car Thing units will still work as expected, Spotify said. The company said it still "unlocked helpful learnings" from the device despite its brief history, and that the car remained an "important place" for audio. You can still buy the Car Thing for $50 (down from the usual $90) as of this writing.

Spotify first shared word of Car Thing in 2019, but the finished product only reached the broader public early this year following several months of invitation-only sales. It was effectively a Spotify player for cars that didn't have streaming functionality, and served as an informative experiment for the company. Low demand wouldn't be surprising. Many cars can access Spotify through Android Auto, Apple CarPlay or built-in apps — Car Thing was mainly helpful for people with older vehicles who wanted a music streaming upgrade, but didn't want to mount their phone.

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The cancellation comes despite otherwise positive signs. Spotify's free and paid listener bases are still growing (to 433 million and 188 million users respectively), and its shifts toward audiobooks and podcasts are paying dividends by lowering the relative cost of music label royalties. Car Thing's demise theoretically helps Spotify focus on those successes and brace itself for a widely expected global recession.

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