Spotify Car Thing Hits a Dead End: Users’ Outrage as Devices Get Bricked

The End of the Road for Car Thing: Bricking Date Set for December

Spotify’s Car Thing, the company’s foray into in-car controls, is on the verge of becoming obsolete—or a “Bricked Thing,” to be more precise. The music streaming behemoth’s brief stint in hardware production ceased in 2022, and now, they’re informing customers that come December 9, their Car Things will turn into expensive paperweights. “We understand this may be a letdown,” Spotify conveys, which might just be the understatement of the year.


As Spotify essentially advises customers to discard their Car Things (post-factory reset and eco-friendly disposal, of course), there’s a burgeoning movement advocating for the device to be open-sourced. This would allow the community to keep it alive. Disgruntled users have voiced their frustrations on platforms like Reddit and the Spotify Community, yet it appears their calls are being ignored.

In a conversation with Ars Technica, a Spotify representative sidestepped inquiries, stating simply, “the time has come to part ways with the devices.” The fall of Car Thing underscores a broader issue plaguing the tech industry: the premature obsolescence of devices.

The takeaway is stark and straightforward: think twice before investing in “experimental” hardware, a label Spotify had attached to Car Thing. The streaming titan had made its intentions clear, emphasizing its goal to reign as the top audio platform, not to dabble in hardware manufacturing—a hint that consumers should be cautious about purchasing gadgets from non-hardware-focused companies. Yet, the problem runs deeper. Spotify isn’t merely ending support; it’s actively disabling a product launched as recently as February 2022, for which customers shelled out $90.

At its core, Car Thing was simply a remote control for the Spotify app, designed to stream music in vehicles lacking Bluetooth audio. The rationale behind Spotify’s decision to remotely deactivate these devices, rather than letting them be, is baffling.

This predicament isn’t unique to Spotify’s audio accessory. As our gadgets become smarter, they increasingly depend on ongoing software support from manufacturers. This incident highlights how companies can abruptly revoke that support to suit their agendas. Moreover, we’ve witnessed similar scenarios, like Roku barring access to smart TVs and streaming devices unless users agree to new terms—terms that weren’t in place at the time of purchase. It’s evident that there’s a need for regulatory intervention. In the UK, for instance, the consumer group behind Which? magazine is actively campaigning for such oversight.

But the implications are clear: when purchasing tech, we must consider not only the capabilities of the device but also the potential actions of the manufacturer that could render it useless.

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