Spotify building its own 'category defining' music hardware

Posted Apr 25, 2017 by James Walker
Spotify is planning to launch a hardware device that will change the way in which "the world" experiences music. The company's ambitious aims are said to be early in development. It's an unexpected expansion of Spotify's business, moving beyond apps.
A woman as she uses the iPhone application of Swedish music streaming service Spotify in Stockholm  ...
A woman as she uses the iPhone application of Swedish music streaming service Spotify in Stockholm, Sweden
Jonathan Nackstrand, AFP/File
Details of the plans were first uncovered by Zatz Not Funny. The news site cites a "trusted source" that believes Spotify is gearing up to launch its own hardware division. The nature of the company's prototype device is unclear but several job listings found on Spotify's website hint at what's in the works.
The company has recently advertised for a senior product manager for the hardware team. The listing explains how Spotify wants to build "fully-connected" hardware products, in this instance focusing on wearable devices and smart home speakers. Competitor products including the Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo and Snap Spectacles are named as potential sources of inspiration.
Spotify intends to tie the result back down to its origins in music. The "frictionless and creative" experience developed by the product manager will "affect the way the world experiences music and talk content," suggesting Spotify's goals are ambitious and likely to be distinctive in the market.
Additional active job listings reveal more of what Spotify is aiming for. The company is hiring directors and product managers for its Voice and Natural Language Understanding teams. The posts again reference wearable devices, alongside "desktop, TVs, speakers, cars, headphones and partner application integrations."
The two openings combined suggest Spotify may be intending to create a music-focused wearable with strong voice control augmented by hooks into the smart home. The wording of each job listing implies the company is trying to drive original innovation in the area, particularly around emerging input types. Voice is becoming a "key interaction mechanism," according to Spotify's product manager role description.
With the smart home market becoming increasingly competitive, Spotify will be looking to carve out its own niche where it can offer unique value to customers. Its device could be tailored specifically to heavy music consumers who want a device primarily centred around content playback. Spotify could expand on the basic music controls offered by rival digital assistants from firms like Apple and Google, giving you an entirely voice-controlled entertainment system.
There's no indication of when Spotify's mysterious products will reach the market. The company seems to be early in development and any launch is likely to be a long way off. The Hardware product manager will also be responsible for "defining the product requirements" for both the device and its software, suggesting Spotify is still early in the planning stages and needs to hire the appropriate talent before progressing forwards.
The job openings are still open to applicants as of writing. The relevant listings are all situated at Spotify's Stockholm headquarters.