For the past year, Spotify has been working on its very first piece of hardware, and if some recent job listings are anything to go by it could be going into production very soon.
In April 2017, Spotify posted some job listings which gave us our first sign that the streaming service was looking to break into hardware. The listings included a Senior Product Manager of Hardware who would be working on “a category defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles”.
A second listing, for a Product Manager of Voice who was to “be responsible for the strategy and execution of Spotify’s voice efforts beyond our core apps [...] areas like desktop, TVs, speakers, cars, wearables, headphones”, suggested that whatever this product is, it’s going to include some form of voice control.
Going hard on hardware
Things went quiet for a while after that, and we had no further insight into what this piece of hardware might be. But a recent group of job listings suggests that Spotify is now preparing to start the manufacturing process.
These adverts show that Spotify is looking to hire an Operations Manager (opens in new tab), a Senior Project Manager: Hardware Production (opens in new tab), and a Project Manager: Hardware Production and Engineering.
The job description for the Operations Manager states that “Spotify is on its way to creating its first physical products and setting up an operational organisation for manufacturing, supply chain, sales & marketing”, which certainly suggests things have now moved beyond the planning stages.
It makes a lot of sense for Spotify to bring its very own piece of hardware to the market, so it can stop relying on third-party services to support it. Though it’s the most popular music streaming service in the world, Apple and Amazon have been pushing their own music services through their hardware.
Keeping up with the competition
While the manufacturers of any devices, from smart speakers to phones to cars, are all quite willing to natively host the Spotify service, it’s notably absent from Apple’s Watches and its new HomePod – something which many consider a drawback with the new speaker.
Spotify clearly thinks it's better served using its popularity to convince consumers to buy its hardware now, and keep up with its streaming competitors before it has too much ground to make up.
Still, despite this clear move forward in the production process, we’re no closer to knowing what kind of hardware Spotify is working on. Looking back to its original job description, which hinted at “a category defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles”, we find ourselves none the wiser.
Our first instinct would be to say Spotify is going to release a smart speaker that works with Google Assistant – although if that's the case it would be rather odd to say it’s working on a “category defining product” when it notes that that particular product category has already been defined by the Amazon Echo.
The mention of Snap Spectacles and the Pebble Watch has us wondering if Spotify is planning to release something in the wearable music category. Certainly some kind of Spotify-integrated headphones would create a stir, but with Spotify not wishing to enlighten us further we’ll just have to wait and see.