Spotify’s “Car Thing” Set to Be Bricked & Abandoned

Spotify’s “Car Thing” Set to Be Bricked & Abandoned

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Were you one of the tens of thousands of consumers who scooped up one of those Spotify “Car Things” back in 2022? The funky looking portable devices that attached to your car dashboard and let you control your Spotify app via a touch screen or voice commands? When you bought it, you probably weren’t expecting to be toting around your Car Thing at a vintage car show in 2060. On the other hand, you probably didn’t imagine that Spotify’s portable electronic device experiment that you just dropped $90 on would be declared “dead” in July 2022—barely a year later, and just five months after it went on sale to the general public?

And, as it turns out, declaring the Car Thing experiment dead was just the first shoe to drop. Less than two years later, Spotify followed that up with the decision to effectively “brick” its Car Thing devices—ending support for the hardware after December 9, 2024. After this date, “Car Thing will be discontinued and will no longer be operational,” Spotify said. In other words, the Car Thing hardware is effectively trash—not because of any failing in the device itself, but because the maker of the hardware has made a business decision to stop supporting it.

Bricks: More useful to your home than a bricked smart home system. Photo via oliphant on Flickr.

The Car Thing imbroglio led to outrage among Spotify’s customers. But it is part of a growing trend in which smart device makers—empowered by always on Internet connections, digital rights management technology, cloud-based administration servers—are effectively abandoning or killing off devices they no longer wish to support, from smart home systems to e-bikes to bionic eyes.

For both businesses and consumers, the costs of arbitrary decisions by manufacturers to kill off otherwise functional devices used by their customers are huge-and growing. As the Internet of Things (quickly) ages, the gap between the useful life of hardware and the desire, ability and intention of manufacturers to continue to support that hardware is growing. Your smart LG or Samsung refrigerator may have a useful life measured in decades, for example. But the OEM only wants to support its software for a few years, after which they will cease providing security and feature updates. They may even follow Spotify’s lead: arbitrarily shutting off servers that enable key features, or even bricking the device.

More News

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