five months. That’s how long Spotify gave its Car Thing — a music-streaming device that connected your smartphone to your car via Bluetooth or an aux cable — before pulling the metaphorical plug. The company revealed it is no longer manufacturing the device, citing “product demand and supply chain issues” in its latest quarterly earnings report.
Spotify took a bath on Car Thing, falling short of its targeted revenue for the second quarter of 2022 in large part because it decided to cut and run on the gadget. Here’s what the company told TechCrunch:
“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,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “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.”
Safe to say we have never been the biggest boosters of Car Thing here at Jalopnik, and given that “product demand” is cited as one of the influencing factors behind its discontinuation, the public didn’t seem to take a shine to it, either. The Car Thing cost $90 on top of an existing Spotify subscription, didn’t work without a connection to your smartphone and didn’t support any apps besides Spotify — meaning it was useless for navigation, for example. Car Thing couldn’t do anything a smartphone doesn’t already, but in Spotify’s defense, most phones don’t have big honking knobs.
When Spotify was first trialing Car Thing, the device was free and required an invite to order. When it went on sale to the general public in February, the price was $90. It’s down to $50 now, likely as the company hopes to offload its supply. I’m excited to see what one of these goes for on eBay in a year.
If you happened to own a vehicle that might have benefited from Car Thing, you’ll be pleased know there are many other options. You could buy a Bluetooth dongle that connects to your vehicle’s aux port, if your car doesn’t already support media over Bluetooth. Some companies even make dashboard or steering wheel-mounted media playback buttonsintended to aid in such use cases.
If you drive something really old, for which Car Thing wouldn’t have helped you anyway, you could go with the trusty cassette aux adapter, a Jalopnik favorite. You could buy like six of those for the price of one Car Thing, and we know a not-insignificant number of you reading this have at least six vehicles on your property right now, most of them equipped with tape decks.
All this is to say the Car Thing could have been a handy little device, if it either 1) was reasonably priced from the get-go or 2) had a feature set that justified its cost. Instead it was a glorified Spotify remote — a subscription-tethered accessory when considerably cheaper, open-platform alternatives exist. I know we all can’t wait for Spotify to tell us what our “audio aura” is every yearbut a bad sell is a bad sell, and no amount of slick marketing can really change that.