Spotify Cuts Cord on 'Car Thing"

Streamer will drop support for in-auto devices in December, no replacement or refund planned

2 min read
Spotify Cuts Cord on 'Car Thing"

In a surprising move, Spotify announced that it will discontinue its Car Thing device, rendering all units inoperable starting December 9, 2024. This decision has left many users frustrated, especially as the company has decided not to offer refunds or trade-in options. The decision comes despite pleas from users to open-source the gadget to prevent it from becoming e-waste.

Car Thing, Spotify’s first hardware product, was launched to a limited number of subscribers in October 2021 and made available to the general public in February 2022. The device was designed to connect to car dashboards and auxiliary outlets, enabling drivers to control Spotify through their car speakers using voice recognition and preset buttons.

The aim was to target older vehicles lacking modern infotainment systems like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Spotify hoped Car Thing would appeal to these car owners as a more affordable alternative to expensive aftermarket head units. Priced initially at $90 and later reduced to $50, Car Thing’s appeal was its simplicity and focus on Spotify’s service.

In its Q2 2022 earnings report, Spotify revealed it had halted production of Car Thing, citing product demand and supply chain issues. Despite assurances that the devices would continue to “perform as intended,” the recent announcement confirmed that all Car Thing units would cease to function by December 9, 2024.

Spotify explained the decision in a statement: “We’re discontinuing Car Thing as part of our ongoing efforts to streamline our product offerings. We understand it may be disappointing, but this decision allows us to focus on developing new features and enhancements that will ultimately provide a better experience for all Spotify users.”

The announcement has sparked significant backlash from Car Thing owners. Many have taken to online forums, including the Spotify Community and Reddit, expressing their dissatisfaction and calling for the company to open-source the device. They argue that making the device open-source would allow the community to maintain and repurpose the hardware, thus preventing it from ending up in landfills.

Adding to the frustration, Spotify has confirmed that there will be no refunds or trade-in options available for Car Thing owners. This stance has drawn criticism, with many users feeling short-changed after investing in a device that is now being discontinued prematurely.

For those seeking refunds, Spotify advises contacting customer support with proof of purchase to discuss their options. However, the company’s primary guidance remains to reset the device to factory settings and dispose of it following local electronic waste guidelines.

While Car Thing’s discontinuation marks the end of Spotify’s foray into dedicated car hardware, the company assures users that they can still enjoy Spotify in their cars through other methods. These include using the Spotify app on smartphones or connecting via Bluetooth or cable, depending on the vehicle’s capabilities.

Spotify’s Car Thing venture highlights the risks and challenges associated with hardware products, particularly for a company primarily known for its software. As the company moves forward, it aims to focus on enhancing its core services and features, leaving the hardware experiment behind.

The discontinuation of Car Thing serves as a reminder of the complexities involved in developing and sustaining hardware products. For Spotify, the focus now shifts back to its software roots, promising continued innovation and improved user experiences within its app. However, for the many Car Thing owners left with soon-to-be-useless devices, the decision remains a sore point, highlighting the importance of customer support and sustainable practices in tech product lifecycles.

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