Popular music streaming service Spotify announced a new smart device called the Car Thing back in April. The touchscreen-enabled streaming gadget was a limited release initially. That release made the device available for free to select Spotify Premium users by invitation only. The Car Thing immediately proved extremely popular, allowing users with older cars to essentially bypass needing an infotainment system.
Spotify unveiled a waitlist for the Car Thing shortly after its initial April teaser. Just two weeks ago, a handful of the devices went up for sale at their new price point, $80. On Wednesday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek reported that over 2 million people have signed up for a chance to purchase a Car Thing. According to Ek, the long waitlist is due to the ongoing chip shortage keeping the supply of the new device low.
In short, the Car Thing is a streaming hub that makes it easier to use Spotify while you’re behind the wheel. The device is simple, sporting a touchscreen, a dial, and a microphone for voice commands. It can hang from the dashboard of any vehicle, where it essentially becomes the car’s new infotainment system. The device lets users change tracks and search for songs without looking down at their phones.
The device requires a Spotify Premium subscription to function. It also doesn’t work by itself: you need to pair a smartphone that has access to either Wi-Fi or a data connection. Right now, the device is only available for purchase in the US, though that could change as Spotify rolls out more units.
Spotify has made a name for itself as the leading music streaming service in the world. By the end of 2021, the company will likely have over 400 million listeners globally. Spotify’s biggest competitor in the music streaming space is Apple Music. Apple is well-known for its high-quality hardware. However, until this year, Spotify hasn’t made any physical devices.
Some tech analysts initially brushed the Car Thing off as a joke. Its unusual name and Spotify’s long history of streaming revenue made the concept seem far-fetched at best. That changed when the April rollout of the Car Thing generated unexpected demand, surprising even Spotify’s CEO.
“We just can’t make enough of them to get them out there to consumers,” Ek admitted on Wednesday.