Music and podcast streaming service Spotify has identified a new target in its attempt to break free from dependence on devices made by Apple, Google and the like: car radios. They are planning to launch a voice-controlled in-car music player later in 2019, making their debut in the hardware market.
An increasingly competitive market
With Apple, Google and Amazon all pushing their own music streaming services, Spotify doesn't want to start losing subscribers simply because their software is dependent on their rivals' hardware. This is what's driving the move to differentiate services and provide a more direct connection with customers. The new hardware will synchronise with car speakers through BlueTooth, and will be programmable with buttons that link to specific Spotify playlists.
Using this new hardware will be reminiscent of how we have become familiar with accessing music through our smart speakers, but will use the new 'Spotify Voice' AI, which began appearing on the smartphone app last year. The product will launch at around £100, making it a cheaper alternative to most brand-name car stereos. It has been developed in partnership with Flex, who are a specialist electronics manufacturer.
Signs of a shift in focus
Rumours about Spotify's ambitions in the hardware market began last June, when the company registered with the Federal Communications Commission. This is an essential step towards being approved to sell wireless devices in the United States. And in another sign of the focus on automotive markets, Spotify has introduced a new 'car view' mode in its Android app, offering simplified controls when connected to a car's BlueTooth system.
Tech giants are battling it out to dominate the car technology market, with Apple and Google both developing systems to integrate their smartphone apps to car dashboards. Spotify is available in cars that support software from these rivals, but with BlueTooth remaining consistently popular in vehicles this new device from Spotify looks hopeful to become a popular choice.
Spotify remains the world's leader in music streaming by some distance, with more than 87 million subscribers. But in the USA, Apple has recently overtaken Spotify, so it's no surprise that there are renewed attempts to gain an edge over tech rivals.