Spotify’s first hardware device might be this music player for your car

Earlier today, Spotify announced it would be sharing news at an April 24th event. It’s unclear whether the company is planning to unveil hardware later this month in New York City, but evidence suggests that Spotify has been working on an in-car controller — or even a standalone player — for the streaming service that would allow drivers to control music playback with their voice.

Back in February, several Spotify customers reported that they received an offer inside the app for a new device that would come included as part of a $12.99-per-month subscription. That price would cover both Spotify’s music service and the device itself if users agreed to a 12-month commitment totaling $155. The device has a circular design with physical buttons for track controls and shuffle, plus an LED running around the outside in Spotify’s signature green.

When reached by The Verge, Spotify declined to comment.

Another user claimed that Spotify showed them a different $14.99 price point and advertised support for Amazon’s Alexa assistant. For some, Spotify detailed built-in 4G mobile data so that the device could function independently of a smartphone. In every case where it appeared, the prompt only came up once and never returned. Sightings of it basically vanished after February. Still, the number of people who received this message tells me that the image is legitimate and was accidentally sent out far ahead of schedule by Spotify. There’s nothing to suggest it will launch at this month’s event, however.

Outside of Reddit, the device has been mentioned on Spotify’s support forums but drew little attention, with forum administrators dismissing it as a test. “We’re always testing things to improve Spotify,” is the usual response line. “Right now we don’t have any news on this, but we’ve let the right team know it’s something you’d like to see,” a moderator wrote in response to another thread on the subject.

Spotify has put out job listings for hardware projects, and the company is actively testing voice commands on its smartphone app. Conventional wisdom would point to Spotify building its own speaker in the vein of Apple’s HomePod.

But the car is a wise focus. Spotify recently rolled out a native player app for Cadillac vehicles and confirmed to The Verge that it views voice control (currently absent from that software) as an important component of the in-car experience. Spotify’s current car integration includes apps for Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto.

Thanks, Trevor!

Comments

This looks like a clever solution to the very real problem of infotainment systems in cars today being such pieces of s*. Google should make one of this with Google Home in it. It would be really nice, and I won’t need to rely on my stupid f* car.

Yep I see this working great in a car. It should also have GPS and say out the directions for you in Gmaps

Have you tried running Android Auto on your phone with voice commands?

yeah because every car has android auto or apple car play…

You can run Android Auto directly from your phone. Just mount your phone instead of this device.

yeah because it doesn’t matter if your car has android auto you can still use it you old salty dog…

$155 for something I can already do with my phone and a bluetooth connection to my car? Nah, I’ll pass.

$155 including $120 of Spotify service, so $35 if you are already a subscriber and plan on staying one

Ah fair, that’s not so bad. I wonder how it would work with the student discount ($4.99)

Correction: $155, including $120 of Spotify service AND [presumably] the cost of mobile data. So instead of paying to stream to your phone, you pay to stream to this Spotify circular audio gadget thing. No more running up your phone bill for music. Pretty sweet deal, imo.

I have to question how Spotify even makes a profit on this thing. I’d assume carriers would be giving Spotify a discounted data rate, but I’d think that would cost them more than $35 annually. I suspect Spotify is using this to ensure that users don’t leave the Spotify platform, rather than a way to directly generate profit

It gets them used to the idea of paying for Spotify. The company’s problem is that they got themselves into the top of the market as a free service and now they don’t they’re having a hard time getting themselves out of being known as free music. This is actually a pretty clever solution.

Data isn’t expensive. It’s essentially free after infrastructure costs and maintenance is paid for. Probably after the first 1% of users. It’s only expensive to users because providers know that we’ll pay for it. If Spotify approached a provider and said, you can have 5% of our customers’ subscription, you bet they’ll take it. It’s free money and it’s reliable since most people won’t stop paying for streaming music once they get used to having it. Spotify converts free users to paid users and a cell company makes new revenue that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Yeah it’s possibly a loss leader to grow the user base and get people onto subscriptions. Presumably they could lock the device to paid subscriptions so people will need to remain a paid customer to continue to use the device once the years up, and they possibly won’t push for people to upgrade the hardware annually allowing them to recoup costs in the second year (assuming the first isn’t profitable, which it may be or could be break even).

Just curious, but why are you presuming data is included?

I was thinking the same thing. I assumed that it would require your phone to provide a data connection.

Because it’s in the article… Although at a slightly higher rate ($14.99) than the other mentions of seeing an ad with no mention of data.

Nothing has said data is paid for. You could read it that way, but it’s not clear based on what we know. What is clear is that it will have the ability to use 4G.

This thing does not have its own data connection and will instead use your phones 4G data while connecting to your phone via blutooth. Look at what Mighty does, same thing.

https://bemighty.com/products/mighty

The Mighty plays a local cache you’ve downloaded ahead of time. It does not stream music on-the-fly.

You can only do it on Android. iOS disallows using Siri to control anything except Apple music so Spotify users have no voice control. So this product makes sense for Spotify to be able to offer that feature to iOS users.

It’s really too bad how most iOS users don’t realize just how behind Siri is.

hey we’re not that stupid; we realise!

It’s appalling, and a big part of why I’ll probably switch to Android for a while later this year. There just isn’t enough to keep me on iOS anymore.

Depends how they build it – if it’s using Siri then yet, but there’s nothing to say that this won’t have it’s own technology for it – would make sense too with phones often being in places voice control wont work unless they’re dash mounted.

Announce a car device in a city where most people will never get to use it because they simply don’t drive. There’s some irony to that.

Plenty of people drive in New York City. Look out the window sometime. NYC has some of the worst traffic in the world. Every day, there are millions of cars on the city’s roads.

Reminds me of that old joke, "nobody goes to Times Square anymore, it’s too crowded!"

Anyone who claims NYC has some of the worst traffic in the world needs to spend more time in Asia.

As an Asian by birth, traveled, and an NYC resident, NYC doesn’t even have the worst traffic in USA.

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