Spotify is looking to go well beyond being just an audio streaming service, and its quest is to eventually become the "number one audio platform in the world". In a bid to do this, the world's most-used music streaming service is reportedly set to begin testing a piece of smart hardware, called 'Car Thing'. Set aside the dry humour of its very literal name, and the Spotify Car Thing may just signify the start of an entire hardware ecosystem, under the Spotify banner.
As reported by The Verge, the Spotify Car Thing product has possibly been in very limited-scale testing, already. Now, however, will be the first time that only a select few Spotify Premium customers in USA will be approached to try it in their cars. This somewhat denies previous reports that Spotify may look to retail its in-car hardware for nearly $100 (~Rs 7,000). A source for The Verge has stated that Spotify may never launch Car Thing as a consumer-centric product, and instead use it as a pilot project that eventually collects data about in-car music streaming and playback habits, and effectively helps the company improve its software and streaming services.
The Spotify Car Thing, in its present avatar, has a small, circular screen that shows track details. There are four buttons to its side, which may presumably be used for toggling playlists or even controlling playback. While it is not clear yet, Car Thing may either have some form of in-built connectivity, or have a Wi-Fi hotspot receiver, which uses connectivity from nearby devices to offer native playback inside cars. It may also include compatibility with most in-car entertainment buttons, which would then make it more intuitive. The Spotify Car Thing will fit into 12V power sockets to run, which makes it compatible with most cars.
Alternatively, users can simply use voice to communicate with it, and access different genres, playlists and even podcasts. It is this voice-based music streaming, customisation and operation model that Spotify may look to use more of, in future. Reports further indicate that alongside Car Thing, Spotify has also trademarked the names Voice Thing and Home Thing, suggesting that it may create an ecosystem of hardware that supplements its core product -- the music streaming service, led by some of the most critically acclaimed playback personalisation algorithms.
There is reportedly no set deadline as to when might the trial begin or end, with the initiation expected within "a few weeks". Given that there are no real hardware production targets in sight, it remains to be seen how Spotify treats this trial. In either case, we should see and hear more of Spotify's future plans, going forward.