April 18, 2021Spotify drops 'Car Thing' for listening in aging cars

In-car entertainment is ubiquitous, but older vehicles are often left behind when it comes to syncing with tech - something Spotify is looking to fix with its hardware device, 'Car Thing'. We explore the insights behind why Spotify is bringing music streaming seamlessly into vehicles that don’t support smart devices.

Louis Tozer

Aimed at premium subscribers, 'Car Thing' includes a touchscreen, a big navigation stick, voice control activations, and four preset buttons to quickly reach favorite content. The device is powered by Spotify's ‘Hey Spotify’ innovation, which lets drivers request podcasts or songs via their voice, allowing them to keep their focus on the road. The device also has four microphones installed to ensure users can be heard regardless of surrounding noise. For a limited time, 'Car Thing' is being offered for free to Spotify subscribers, after which it will retail at $79.99. “No matter the year or model of your vehicle, we feel everyone should have a superior listening experience,” reads a statement from the brand.

Spotify’s foray into hardware may seem like an odd move in an age of massive digitalization, but there’s a clear need for it, given the lingering barriers that keep some people from enjoying streaming in their car. One issue is age: the average age of a car in the US is 11 years old, and many of these older vehicles can't accommodate the latest entertainment. Other drivers are wary about the data-sharing implications of linking their personal devices to their cars. Despite these concerns, connected cars are widely regarded as the future – by 2023, sales are expected to exceed 76 million units worldwide. 'Car Thing' helps Spotify cement itself as a vital in-car partner.

Louis Tozer is a behavioural analyst of social sciences at Canvas8. He holds a master's degree in history from UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies and was formerly a research assistant at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade. He can often be found in the pub with friends or at Roots Hall, the home of Southend United.

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