Spotify launches dumbest product of the year

Faced with angry musicians pulling their catalogs and angry fans canceling their subscriptions, Spotify has announced the launch of a new phone that is not a phone but a remote control to control the phone you already have.

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It’s called “Car Thing” – that’s really its name – and it’s a new device created and sold by Spotify itself. “Car Thing” clips onto your dashboard and responds, like Siri, to hands-free voice commands beginning with “Hey Spotify…” and instructions to play or shuffle songs.

Spotify executives are launching a new product marketed primarily to people like Spotify executives.

Examples of Spotify commands include:

“Play Rock”
“Play My Favorites”
“Play Like This More”
“Show this album”
“Show similar artists”
“Mix Today’s Best Hits”

It also looks like an older generation iPhone, except for a large button on the front that can be used to “browse, select, play, pause, and discover.” You can also program “four preset buttons” – probably fewer than there are on an existing car stereo – with shortcuts.

If it sounds a lot like a car stereo, that’s basically what it is, except this one can only play Spotify. It can also have the form factor of an iPhone 4, but without the ability to make calls, tell you the weather, look up directions, traffic reports, or anything else. However, a real phone must be connected to use your existing phone’s data connection.

“At least when Amazon and Facebook tried to make their own branded phones, they were actually phones,” commented blogger John Gruber. “Who wants a phone-sized remote for their phone?”

Gruber overlooks the Sharper Image factor though: this is a limited-use product with more engineering put into the marketing than the design. It’s for your rich dad who already has a “vacuum broom” and a “digital barbecue fork” and won’t suffer much by leaving a $90 product in the box until he buys a new car. and throw it away.

Essentially: Spotify executives have created a product that appeals primarily as disposable gadgets for the wealthy, like the Spotify executives themselves.

Victor L. Jones