Spotify Car Thing's wait-list signups top 2 million people (and climbing)

"We just can't make enough of them to get them out there to consumers," Spotify's CEO Daniel Ek says.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
Spotify's Car Thing gadget

Spotify's Car Thing has voice, touch and physical dial controls.

Angela Lang/CNET

Spotify's $80 Car Thing has signed up more than 2 million people total on its wait list, CEO Daniel Ek said Wednesday, suggesting a well of demand for the gadget that makes Spotify easier to navigate in cars, especially those with an older -- or absent -- infotainment system. (For context, Amazon's Echo Auto had more than 1 million preorders before it was made available -- that's slightly different than the Car Thing wait list, and Echo Auto signups happened over a shorter period than Car Thing by a couple months.)

And yes, you still may have to wait a long time to get one.

"The No. 1 constraint for us at this particular moment ... is chip shortages," Ek said Wednesday. "We just can't make enough of them to get them out there to consumers."

Spotify launched Car Thing as a free, highly limited release in April, making it available at first only by invitation to a select number of its paid Premium subscribers in the US. When Spotify publicly revealed Car Thing, it kicked off a wait list at carthing.spotify.com. Two weeks ago, Spotify started releasing new Car Things for purchase to people on the list. 

Spotify has flirted with the idea of physical products in the past, but Car Thing marked its first legit hardware. Hardware has been on Spotify's radar for years -- Ek once mused about a future with musical lightbulbs -- but the company has remained focused on its streaming-music service, helping it to become the world's largest such, with expectations to hit 400 million listeners globally by the end of the year. The scant track record in hardware, and the fact that Spotify has been referring to its device simply as Car Thing throughout its development, made the product seem like it may amount to nothing more than vaporware.

Car Thing is similar to a touchscreen, voice-enabled tuner that you can mount on your dashboard, except the only things Car Thing helps drivers "tune" are different tracks, podcasts, albums or playlists inside Spotify's library. In addition to allowing you to tap its screen or direct it with voice commands, Car Thing has a large physical dial. 

In order to be eligible to come off the wait list and buy Car Thing, you need to be in the US. Car Thing won't work with free accounts, so you need to be a paying Premium subscriber in the US for it to operate, and you need to have a smartphone with a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection. 

Watch this: Spotify CEO talks expansion, reaching 1 billion users