Spotify may be preparing HomePod competitor with entrance into hardware market

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Spotify could be gearing up to take on Apple's HomePod with its own competing smart speaker or other hardware, after new job advertisements for the music streaming service reveal it is looking for employees to set up the manufacturing process for its first physical products.

Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek. | Source: Spotify
Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek. | Source: Spotify


Three notices on Spotify's own recruitment website, found by Musically, relate to hardware production fields at various levels. The "Senior Project Manager, Hardware Production" and "Project Manager, Hardware Production & Engineering" roles details jobs overseeing the project that will help in the "creation of innovative Spotify experiences via connected hardware."

A third listing, "Operations Manager, Hardware Product," is more direct in advising of the firm's goal, stating "Spotify is on its way to creating its first physical products and setting up an operational organization for manufacturing, supply chain, sales, and marketing."

The advertising for new employees in those positions do indicate that Spotify wants to start manufacturing hardware, but that it still early in the overall process. References to working with third-party designers, contractors, and manufacturers, as well as one job's role including managing inventory and the supply chain, strongly points to this being a production effort that would use an assembly partner, such as Foxconn, instead of setting up its own production lines.

It is worth noting that the existence of the job postings are not a sign that Spotify will commence manufacturing efforts in the near future. Such roles could be filled long in advance, giving the company an opportunity to plan out the process long before it commits to manufacturing.

Currently, Spotify does not provide any hardware of its own, instead relying on working with other hardware producers to make Spotify work with third-party devices. This does leave Spotify vulnerable in cases where hardware producers decline to work with the company and makes it difficult to use the streaming music service with its hardware, such as with Apple's HomePod not including native Spotify support, forcing it to be used through AirPlay.

Developing its own hardware would enable Spotify to have control over how the end user experiences the service, as well as what other streaming competitors would be allowed to use the device.

So far, it is unclear exactly what kind of products Spotify intends to produce, but given its audio-centric nature, it is likely to be some form of smart speaker, similar to the HomePod and Amazon's Echo range. The latest job ads do not indicate the product category, but The Guardian reports other postings from April last year state Spotify wants to create "a category defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles."

Other job ads at that time for a "Product Manager, Voice" and "Director of Product, Natural Language Understanding" were detailed as working to make Spotify work more efficiently with voice-based systems, such as in cars or with third-party apps. Considering the more recent hardware-related postings, it is entirely possible these earlier postings could have been part of an effort by Spotify to start working on its own smart speaker or similar products.

Currently, Spotify is the most popular music streaming service in the world, with upwards of 70 million paid Premium subscribers, and possibly as many free listeners, but it is facing fierce competition from Apple Music in the United States. It is reported Apple Music is increasing its subscriber count by 5 percent per month compared to Spotify's 2 percent monthly growth rate, which could lead to Apple Music overtaking Spotify in terms of subscribers in the U.S by the summer.
tmay
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    Big mistake by Spotify that will only quicken their demise. They do not have the in-house talent nor the deep pockets to compete with the other tech companies in this space.
    randominternetpersoncornchipwatto_cobrajbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 28
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,181member
    This will not end well. They better off finding an existing product and slapping their name on it, since we know they will give it away with a subscription.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 28
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,507member
    This is an area they don't need to go in. They need to focus on their music service, not a speaker. Spotify is in no position to develop and sell a speaker, or any piece of hardware for that matter. Let others do the speaker and you focus on making Spotify the best service out there. There is nothing to gain by Spotify doing this. 

    How are they gonna market this? How are they gonna sell it? Who is going to support issues? What will they do to make me want to buy this over HomePod or Sonos? This is just stupid IMO. 
    edited February 20 cornchipwatto_cobrajbdragon
  • Reply 4 of 28
    dws-2dws-2 Posts: 182member
    I get why they're doing this (or might be doing this, really). If their biggest competitor has a smart speaker that doesn't work with their service, it could cut them out of the market.

    However, I agree with the others here. It's very unlikely they're going to make a better speaker than a Sonos or a HomePod, and it's more likely they'll associate themselves with a crappy brand because of the poor speaker.

    What they should be doing, if possible, is to with speaker companies like Sonos to better integrate their services so that you can get the equivalent of a "native" Spotify experience using a Sonos (or Google Home or Amazon Echo). Sonos in particular derives a lot of its value by being flexible, so I would expect they'd be open to this.
    randominternetpersoncornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 28
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,507member
    dws-2 said:
    I get why they're doing this (or might be doing this, really). If their biggest competitor has a smart speaker that doesn't work with their service, it could cut them out of the market.

    However, I agree with the others here. It's very unlikely they're going to make a better speaker than a Sonos or a HomePod, and it's more likely they'll associate themselves with a crappy brand because of the poor speaker.

    What they should be doing, if possible, is to with speaker companies like Sonos to better integrate their services so that you can get the equivalent of a "native" Spotify experience using a Sonos (or Google Home or Amazon Echo). Sonos in particular derives a lot of its value by being flexible, so I would expect they'd be open to this.
    As soon as Apple adds in full Spotify support for HomePod this is pretty much immediately a dead product. I have no doubts Apple will eventually add in Spotify support. It may not be today or 3 months from now...but I bet it will come. As with most brand new Apple products, its nice to start, short on features, but gets better over time. I have no doubts that HomePod will be any different. Siri will get better, it will have more services support, and have new and improved features. 

    This is a company panicking instead of focusing on what should be more important to them, which is making their service the best it can be. They're obviously feeling the heat from Apple where as before they were dismissing that Apple was even a threat to them. 
    edited February 20 cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 28
    I agree this will expedite their fall from grace. I bought the HomePod last week, the sound is incredible and Siri hears me every single time. The Siri functionality works for my purposes: pausing music, changing volume, finding volume level, skipping tracks, etc. I'll buy a second one once AirPlay2 allows them to work in tandem. Wish Spotify had already IPO'd, this seems like a good time to short the stock.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 28
    Will it offer native voice control of Apple Music? if not, will there be an internet conniption fit?
    randominternetpersoncornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 28
    dws-2 said:
    I get why they're doing this (or might be doing this, really). If their biggest competitor has a smart speaker that doesn't work with their service, it could cut them out of the market.
    Incorrect. HP of course can playback Spotify, in the exact same way I’ve been using my existing AirPlay wifi speaker for years. IOW it “works with” Spotify. It doesn’t offer voice control, which has never before this month been equated with “working”. 
    Rayz2016chabigwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 28
    I think this is Spotify’s way os saying their business model, while successful today, is doomed long term. 
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 28
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,497member
    Now that Apple has defined the archetype for a hifi smart speaker I fully expect the entire vulture flock of competitors to reverse engineer the HomePod and offer up their own pod clones. In Spotify’s case Apple should wait until Spotify sinks a ton of money into developing their HomePod clone, likely via a partnership with the world’s master cloner Samsung, and then incorporate full compatibility with Spotify’s service.

    I realize that money is money, but as an engineer or designer I’d personally have a hard time looking myself in the mirror if my life’s work was based on copying the innovation and hard work of others. But I understand that in cases of personal or corporate survival, settling for mediocrity may be the best available option.

    Spotify can undoubtedly hear the footsteps behind them and they know it’s not someone rushing up to pat them on the back. 
    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 28
    I agree this will expedite their fall from grace. I bought the HomePod last week, the sound is incredible and Siri hears me every single time. The Siri functionality works for my purposes: pausing music, changing volume, finding volume level, skipping tracks, etc. I'll buy a second one once AirPlay2 allows them to work in tandem. Wish Spotify had already IPO'd, this seems like a good time to short the stock.
    Your post matches my thoughts so closely you could have been writing for both of us.

    i own and still use Harman Kardashian’s Soundsticks and a Bose iPhone speaker.   Both cost more than the HomePod, sound just as good (I’m not an audiophile) but neither has the expandability or voice control capability that the HomePod does (will have), nor do they integrate with the Apple ecosystem. 
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 28
    No, the Kardashian’s do not manufacture speakers. That was supposed to read Kardon (damn auto correct). 
    randominternetpersoncornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 28
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,943member
    No, the Kardashian’s do not manufacture speakers. That was supposed to read Kardon (damn auto correct). 
     You sure about that? I think I saw a Kardashian Speaker in John Lewis a few weeks ago. It only works when facing a mirror and it had a massive pair of sub woofers mounted on the back.

    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 28
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,507member
    No, the Kardashian’s do not manufacture speakers. That was supposed to read Kardon (damn auto correct). 
    LOL Harman Kardashian Sound Sticks. :smiley: 
  • Reply 15 of 28
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,048member
    macxpress said:
    dws-2 said:
    I get why they're doing this (or might be doing this, really). If their biggest competitor has a smart speaker that doesn't work with their service, it could cut them out of the market.

    However, I agree with the others here. It's very unlikely they're going to make a better speaker than a Sonos or a HomePod, and it's more likely they'll associate themselves with a crappy brand because of the poor speaker.

    What they should be doing, if possible, is to with speaker companies like Sonos to better integrate their services so that you can get the equivalent of a "native" Spotify experience using a Sonos (or Google Home or Amazon Echo). Sonos in particular derives a lot of its value by being flexible, so I would expect they'd be open to this.
    As soon as Apple adds in full Spotify support for HomePod this is pretty much immediately a dead product. I have no doubts Apple will eventually add in Spotify support. It may not be today or 3 months from now...but I bet it will come. As with most brand new Apple products, its nice to start, short on features, but gets better over time. I have no doubts that HomePod will be any different. Siri will get better, it will have more services support, and have new and improved features. 

    This is a company panicking instead of focusing on what should be more important to them, which is making their service the best it can be. They're obviously feeling the heat from Apple where as before they were dismissing that Apple was even a threat to them. 
    I understand HomePod supports Spotify through AirPlay now.

    There is no chance Apple will make a competing service native to their hardware. HomePod is all about that subscription fee.

    maestro64 said:
    This will not end well. They better off finding an existing product and slapping their name on it, since we know they will give it away with a subscription.
    I agree. I also expect the competition for bundles like this to heat up. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 28
    Hahaha that won't be good..
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 28
    Talk about being late to the game. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 28
    eightzero said:

    There is no chance Apple will make a competing service native to their hardware. HomePod is all about that subscription fee.
    Despite the fact that it works perfectly fine...without a subscription fee? Ignoring for a moment that voice playback controls work with your iTunes purchases for free, the fact remains that "AirPlay wifi speakers" are an entire product category that has existed for years, and the HP is simply the most recent. *None* of them offer(ed) voice playback controls, because all of them are simply AirPlay endpoints for audio playback. HP is exactly the same as all those speakers, except with much better sound. Nobody gave two shits about voice playback controls until this month.
    edited February 20 randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,909member
    eightzero said:

    There is no chance Apple will make a competing service native to their hardware. HomePod is all about that subscription fee.
    Despite the fact that it works perfectly fine...without a subscription fee? Ignoring for a moment that voice playback controls work with your iTunes purchases for free, the fact remains that "AirPlay wifi speakers" are an entire product category that has existed for years, and the HP is simply the most recent. *None* of them offer voice playback controls, because all of them are simply AirPlay endpoints for audio playback. HP is exactly the same as all those speakers, except with much better sound. Nobody gave two shits about voice playback controls until this month.
    You're trying to ignore that Apple really does promote Siri voice control as a major feature on the HomePod. The very first paragraph of their product page makes that clear:

    "HomePod is a powerful speaker that sounds amazing and adapts to wherever it’s playing. It’s the ultimate music authority, bringing together Apple Music and Siri to learn your taste in music. It’s also an intelligent home assistant, capable of handling everyday tasks — and controlling your smart home. HomePod takes the listening experience to a whole new level. And that’s just the beginning."

    That's why people keep bringing it up.
    ...and before you start in yes Siri on HomePod can do exactly what Apple says it can. Less careful readers could come away with the impression it can offer voice control of music other than just Apple Music since even in the footnote Apple is less than clear Siri works ONLY with Apple Music.
    From the fine print: 
    1. Siri works with Apple Music. Subscription required for Apple Music.
    edited February 20 larrya
  • Reply 20 of 28
    macxpress said:
    This is an area they don't need to go in. They need to focus on their music service, not a speaker. Spotify is in no position to develop and sell a speaker, or any piece of hardware for that matter. Let others do the speaker and you focus on making Spotify the best service out there. There is nothing to gain by Spotify doing this. 

    How are they gonna market this? How are they gonna sell it? Who is going to support issues? What will they do to make me want to buy this over HomePod or Sonos? This is just stupid IMO. 
    There are rumors that Facebook is getting into the smart speaker business to. I don’t understand why other than tech sites and journalists are obsessed with gadgets.
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