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Spotify may be preparing HomePod competitor with entrance into hardware market

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.