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Is Spotify Making a Smart Speaker?

There are strong indications that the streaming company is on the way to creating its own hardware

STOCKHOLM — Evidence is mounting that streamer Spotify is gearing up to enter the smart speaker market.

According to a job listing mined by MusicAlly last month, Spotify is seeking someone to fill a new role that requires the employee to “define and manage Distribution, Supply, Logistics, fulfillment and Customer Service for Hardware Products and work with partners to deliver the optimal Spotify experience to millions of users.”

Since the ad was discovered, Spotify’s employment website says the “gig has been closed or canceled,” which either means the company has filled the position or changed its mind about diving into this crowded market. However, other job listings earlier in the year would indicate the former is more likely.

In the US, Spotify is currently available on a host of smart devices, including models from Sonos, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Denon, Bose, Chromecast Audio, in addition to a number of devices that feature Spotify Connect — including some BMW and Ford vehicles.

According to the Guardian, Spotify “has also faced pressure from a few manufacturers who don’t want to incorporate the Connect functionality into their products – notably Apple, which doesn’t support native Spotify playback on either the HomePod or Apple Watch. (Spotify users can still use the service with both devices through their phones, but with limited functionality.)”

Significant questions remain. Will the company build its own AI system, or license Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant — or both? But Apple, which doesn’t like to play nice with competitors, won’t be an option.

Why should broadcasters care? Spotify is a competing for listeners’ ears, and the potential hardware would be another device where radio would be second fiddle, if AM/FM capability is included at all.