Spotify has made some rather interesting business decisions over the past decade since arriving in North America in 2011 and growing to become a global leader in music and audio streaming. Spotify’s latest initiative, a hardware-based “Car Thing”, now adds to the company’s growing list of updates in its business model which over the past year has included rolling out a high-quality audio subscription, proposing A.I. technology that would determine the risk for plagiarism in any given composition, launching a “Lyrics Search” feature, and reportedly developing an in-app karaoke feature.
Announced earlier this week, Car Thing is described by the company as “a new smart player” which is only available in the United States at the moment. The hardware-based device looks similar to that of those clunky original car radios once utilized by SiriusXM, and allows users to access Spotify’s audio library by means of voice, touchscreen, or dial controls.
Users will have the option to quickly choose from up to four presets, and new podcast episodes will be updated in the same way they are on a smartphone device or tablet.
As TechCrunch reports, Spotify first began testing Car Thing back in 2019, but notes the “company will collect recordings and transcripts of what you say along with information about the content it returned to you, and may use the data to improve the feature over time.”
“In a typical year, Americans spend over 70 billion hours in their cars and there are 250 million cars on America’s roads today,” Shanon Cook, Spotify’s head of Global Culture and Trends said in a press statement. “That’s a lot of time spent on the road. So what you do and what you listen to, to help you get through those hours in the car really matters.”
Car Thing is currently in an invite-only availability phase in the United States and requires a paid Spotify Premium subscription and a smart device with WiFi or mobile data connection for wireless connection. It is free of charge for those lucky enough to try this new device out, although users will have to cover shipping charges.