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Spotify kills Car Thing

Spotify
(Image credit: Spotify)

Spotify may have only officially launched Car Thing at the start of this year, but it's already applying the brakes and stopping production.

In a statement to TechCrunch (opens in new tab), a spokesperson said, “The goal of Spotify’s Car Thing exploration was to better understand in-car listening and bring audio to a wider range of users and vehicles.

“Based on several factors, including product demand and supply chain issues, we have decided to stop further production of Car Thing units. Existing devices will perform as intended. This initiative has unlocked helpful learnings, and we remain focused on the car as an important place for audio.”

Spotify has said it will continue to support Car Thing, while those considering purchasing one should do so quickly as it's now discounted by 45% to $50 (opens in new tab).

In a quarterly earnings review this week, the streaming giant revealed that its monthly active users grew by 19% to 433 million, 5 million above its predictions, while paid users grew by 14% to 188 million. However, the company missed out on its gross margins, saying they were “negatively impacted by our decision to stop manufacturing Car Thing,” resulting in a $31.4 million charge to discontinue production.

Designed to give users a more convenient, seamless and, presumably, safer way to control Spotify while driving, Car Thing includes voice control, a large physical dial, and an onboard touchscreen.

Spotify first began offering Car Thing free to some of its Premium subscribers in the US on an "invite-only" basis in April 2021, before launching it to a "limited" waitlist of users in October priced at $80 (around £60, AU$110). More than two million people signed up, and Spotify struggled to meet demand due to ongoing chip shortages.

As cars increasingly feature more advanced voice control and touchscreens, Spotify seems to have realised that the appeal of purchasing an extra piece of hardware has limited appeal and has decided to cut its losses. Despite exceeding its user growth and earnings estimates, the company still reported a net loss for the second quarter of 2022 of $197 million after sales of $2.9 billion.

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Mary is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and has over a decade of experience working as a sound engineer mixing live events, music and theatre. Her mixing credits include productions at The National Theatre and in the West End, as well as original musicals composed by Mark Knopfler, Tori Amos, Guy Chambers, Howard Goodall and Dan Gillespie Sells.