Despite having 87 million paying subscribers around the world, Spotify can't afford to rest on its market-leading laurels. While it's one of the most popular and well-regarded music streaming platforms in the world, a new front in this constant war is opening up, in the form of your car's radio.
And according to a report from The Financial Times, the streaming service has a plan to stake a claim on your vehicular tunes, in the form of a physical device that will bypass your radio via a wireless Bluetooth connection and cost about $100.
You may ask, "Isn't my phone already a voice activated gadget to stream music in my car?" And you may already be using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to stream Spotify (download for iOS or Android) through your phone while you motor around. In which case, we wouldn't blame you for scratching your heads. However, there is a method to this madness.
By putting a Spotify-specific device in your car, the company might get around a marketplace controlled by platforms like Android Auto where it has to compete with Apple Music, Pandora, Google Play Music, Audible, Tidal and others for your time and attention.
Meanwhile, Amazon is already market testing its own gadget called Echo Auto, which uses the Alexa virtual assistant and is slated to cost $50 when it fully launches some time this year. Amazon offers Prime subscribers access to several million songs at no additional charge (download the app for Android or iOS), and customers can subscribe to Amazon Music Unlimited, whose catalog is comparable in size to the other major streaming services. The company also owns Audible (download for Android or iOS), the biggest audiobook storefront in the world whose app works in both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
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In addition to Spotify and Amazon battling with Google and Apple over brand positioning in your car, The Financial Times also points out that most vehicles on the road in 2017 were more than a decade old, in which case they have no built-in support for CarPlay, Android Auto or any other phone-based media streaming. In this environment, an extra gadget is necessary to get your phone and your car talking to each other.
Presumably, Spotify's reported gadget will connect to your car audio system via a standard audio cable connected to an auxiliary jack, which is common in cars that predate platforms like CarPlay and Android Auto. Connecting the phone to this gadget via Bluetooth would skip the recent issue of many phones being released without a headphone jack. Otherwise, you could just directly connect your audio cable from your phone to your car.
However, Bluetooth is not known for its audio quality, so we'll keep a close watch on this new test of the wireless communication system's music streaming chops.
- The Financial Times reports that Spotify is developing a car audio device that allows older vehicles to stream its music via Bluetooth. The device will purportedly cost about $100.
- Meanwhile, Amazon is already market testing a similar device of its own, known as Echo Auto.
- Spotify launching new Car View mode for simple music control while driving
- Google's Assistant and Maps apps drop Android Auto and Apple CarPlay requirements
- Google Podcasts app finally comes to Android Auto
- Spotify will reportedly let you block artists soon (CNET)
- Apple's content ambitions push it beyond its hardware (ZDNet)
- Apple's growing services business depends on lower-cost iPhones (TechRepublic)