Not long after Apple finally entered the smart speaker market with the HomePod, it appears there’s further competition on the way. Job ads suggest that Spotify is planning to enter production with its own speaker.
It was clear as long ago as last April that Spotify was at least exploring the idea, but new job ads suggest that the company may soon be gearing up for manufacturing …
Musically spotted the ads.
“Spotify is on it’s [sic] way creating it’s first physical products and set-up an operational organisation for manufacturing, supply chain, sales & marketing,” explains a not-quite-fully-spell-checked ad for an Operations Manager – Hardware Product on Spotify’s recruitment site.
The role includes handling ‘distribution, supply, logistics, fulfillment and customer service,’ all functions that the company would need only once it enters the production and sale phases.
While it’s entirely unsurprising that the HomePod supports only Apple Music natively, the lack of Spotify support other than via AirPlay was a contentious point for some. In its own review, the Guardian suggested that ‘missing true Spotify support will be a deal killer for many.’
Apple isn’t afraid of competition. It launched HomePod into a market already dominated by Amazon’s Echo speakers, with the Google Home range in second place. But existing smart speakers were focused on smarts first, music second, while HomePod is all about the music.
It seems likely that Spotify’s speaker will, like HomePod, be very music-focused, making it potentially more of a direct competitor.
Spotify is planning to take the company public this quarter, not long after hitting 70M subscribers. Streaming music businesses operate on notoriously slim margins, almost all the revenue going to labels and music publishers. Jimmy Iovine said last year that it was ‘not a great business‘ to be in. Moving into the hardware field could provide Spotify with a route into a more profitable operating model.