Spotify has three job listings for hardware; is a smart speaker coming?

Spotify is looking to make a hire in hardware development, the latest sign that the company might have aspirations beyond software. Music Ally found listings for three jobs at the streaming service. They are Operations Manager – Hardware Product, Senior Project Manager – Hardware Production, and Project Manager – Hardware Production & Engineering.

The company had two job postings in spring 2017, one for senior product manager of hardware, that also indicated interest in some type of physical product development. The current device du jour is the smart speaker. Many tech businesses that also have music offerings have already made strides in the space. Apple, Amazon, and Google all have voice-activated connected speakers on the market in addition to products from Sonos, LG, and others.

What would Spotify have to gain from entering this crowded segment? Unless other manufacturers opt to refuse access to Spotify on their devices, as Apple HomePod currently does, there may not be a benefit to making the investment in a branded smart speaker, not when its competitors have had so much time to carve out customer bases. Hiring now for a future launch leaves potentially years ahead for rivals to further entrench. Even among its own audience, Spotify still has millions of ad-supported listeners. Converting freemium listeners to smart speaker owners is an even steeper uphill climb.

That doesn’t mean other hardware integrations aren’t possibilities as well. Headphones or branded tablets could be a lower cost approach to giving easy access to the streaming service both at home and on the go.

Anna Washenko