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All Spotify Car Things Are About to Become E-Waste

The $90 media player could've been nifty, but will instead be one of those relics tech bloggers mention in hushed tones.

If you’re one of the poor souls who shelled out $90 for a Spotify Car Thing, I have even more bad news. Your already questionable investment is about to become a certifiably bad one because Spotify has announced that it’s shutting down support for the accessory, effectively rendering every Car Thing out there a paperweight.

In case you’re unfamiliar, the Spotify Car Thing was the music streaming firm’s first foray into the hardware game: a small, relatively affordable way for owners of older cars to play Spotify. On its face, the idea wasn’t bad. As the owner of two cars not new enough to have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, I would’ve happily paid $90 for a device that added some of that functionality in, and didn’t involve taking apart any dashboards. Unfortunately, the Car Thing wasn’t quite that device, and it was ultimately deemed a failure, going out of production after just five months on sale in 2022.

The Car Thing’s actual execution left much to be desired. For starters, it still required connecting to a phone—which, at that point, why not just get a phone mount for a lot less money and stick that on your dash? Also, it relayed audio to your car’s sound system exclusively via Bluetooth, which rendered it useless to owners of cars too old to have that technology (Honda S2000 owners unite).

Per CNET‘s review of the device, the Car Thing came with zero on-device storage capabilities which, unless the music was saved on your phone, made it less than ideal for road trips and traveling through areas with weak cell signals. What’s more, that big knob you see is not, in fact, a volume knob, but a redundant physical way to navigate the screen, much like the iDrive knob in a BMW or something. Considering how many cars frustratingly omit volume knobs these days, this was a bit of a missed opportunity.

At any rate, none of that really matters anymore, because Car Thing owners have been notified that the device will become inoperable starting December 9. In an official support article, Spotify writes, “We’re discontinuing Car Thing as part of our ongoing efforts to streamline our product offerings. We understand it may be disappointing, but this decision allows us to focus on developing new features and enhancements that will ultimately provide a better experience to all Spotify users.”

The music delivery company is not offering any refunds, subscription credits, or trade-in options. Spotify goes on to recommend that Car Thing owners reset their Car Things to factory settings before safely disposing of them, following local e-waste guidelines.

Yep—not only did Spotify charge $90 for a product of questionable utility before rendering them all completely useless just two years later, but it’s also created a whole bunch of trash in the process. Perhaps Car Things can find second lives as collector’s items for budding Silicon Valley types, sitting in corner offices inside glass boxes as a reminder of how not to ship your first hardware product.

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